Fiat has built an extensive lineup of dual-fuel natural gas and gasoline vehicles, and the company has just added the latest Punto Natural Power to the stable. The little Fiat uses a 20-gallon methane tank under the floorpan to augment a 12-gallon gasoline tank in the rear, allowing the Punto to use whichever fuel is most readily available or least expensive for a combined range of 1,000 miles. The dual-fuel system also provides low CO2 emissions ratings and other benefits under the bizarre European vehicle tax code. So what's the downside? You have to swallow the idea of driving an Italian subcompact carrying 20 gallons of pressurized methane just beneath your seat. Press release after the jump.
Fiat proudly presents the Fiat Grande Punto Natural Power, a new dual fuel (petrol/methane) version that confirms the brand's commitment to the field of environmental protection. This substantial commitment is reflected by Fiat's indisputable leadership in the field of cars with methane engines as original equipment (OEM): during the period January-August 2008 some 43,000 methane-driven Fiat vehicles were sold in Italy compared with 33,000 during the same period in 2007. We should not forget that Fiat is the first and only manufacturer to offer, in its "Natural Power" range, a wide array of vehicles with methane-petrol dual fuel systems able to meet the mobility requirement of an extensive category of users: Multipla Natural Power, Punto Natural Power, Panda Panda Natural Power, Panda Panda Climbing Natural Power and Doblò Natural Power. Now comes the turn of the Fiat Grande Punto Natural Power, a new dual fuel car that sets standards of absolute excellence in several areas. Firstly, a methane-driven Grande Punto proves itself to be a valid financial alternative to cars that run on conventional fuels (diesel and petrol) that are increasingly subject to rising prices. Suffice it to say that in Italy, for example, EUR 12 buys a full tank of natural gas and it costs just EUR 3.8 to cover 100 km. Another virtue of the new model is its extraordinary range: when running on methane, it is able to cover 310 km with the tank filled to its full capacity of 84 litres. This record-breaking figure is increased by the 45 litre petrol tank capacity: this means that the Fiat Grande Punto Natural Power can be driven for more than 1000 kilometres without refuelling. So once you have a full tank you can drive with peace of mind, and in any case it is increasingly easier to refuel with natural gas because the network of service stations is extensive and continuously expanding (the number of service stations in Italy currently stands at 630). The new model also offers a 1.4 8v Fire unit that is already compliant with the EURO5 directive and offers low CO2 emissions (just 115 g/km) that allow customers access to the maximum state incentives (EUR 2800 and 3 years of car tax if scrapped). The promotional launch price will start from EUR 12,300, complemented by 6 years of interest-free finance (offer valid to 31 December 2009). Because Fiat Grande Punto Natural Power marks an important step forward in dual fuel cars technology, we have decided to introduce it at an original event that reflects Fiat Automobiles all-round commitment to the environment. The press presentation has been designed in accordance with the principles of "Impatto Zero®", an innovative project by LifeGate (an eco-cultural platform that is the chosen partner of companies who are serious about sustainable development) that is putting the aims of the Kyoto Protocol into action for the first time in Italy: reducing carbon dioxide emissions and compensating for them by planting new forests. In detail, Impatto Zero® quantifies the environmental impact of businesses, companies, products and individuals, calculating emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouses gases and the equivalent amounts in Kg of CO2. It then compensates for the emissions by reforestation and the protection of woodland areas in Italy and throughout the world. Since 2002, more than 450 companies have chosen to sign up to the LifeGate scheme in Italy and they have now been joined by Fiat Automobiles, which has calculated the environmental impact of the Fiat Grande Punto Natural Power launch event and compensated for it by planting 6,668 m2 of forest in the Ticino Natural Park.