The Astra station wagon 1.6 CNG offers superior performance when it comes to safety. The entire tank system is mounted on the underside of the vehicle with steel fastening bands. The tanks are also protected by an underside casing. The two gas tanks, each of which has its own valve, are made of high-strength steel and the gas lines from rust-proof stainless steel. The tanks are located outside the impact area in order to provide the best possible protection for passengers and for the environment. In addition, its ignition temperature, at 650° Celsius, is considerably higher than that of gasoline. Natural gas is also safer than gasoline in the event of an accident. Since it is lighter than air, it evaporates as soon as it is released. Some car parks in Germany forbid gas-powered vehicles, but Astra station wagon 1.6 CNG drivers can legally ignore this prohibition because it only applies to gas vehicles whose fuel is heavier than air. And finally, due to the tanks' high safety standards, Germany's Technical Inspection Association (TÜV) does not call for any additional inspections apart from the compulsory checks required at 10-year intervals.
The basic Astra station wagon 1.6 CNG model is produced in Bochum, Germany and the gas assembly is later installed by Opel Special Vehicles GmbH (OSV) in Rüsselsheim. This Opel subsidiary, established in January 2000, currently employs some 300 people. OSV produces the natural gas-powered Zafira and the sporty Opel OPC models. The subsidiary is also responsible for the conversion of vehicles for public authorities and for special cars such as those used by police, driving schools and taxi companies. In addition, it does the individualized customizing of Opel production models.
The Astra station wagon 1.6 CNG is part of Opel's threefold strategy designed to reduce the new fleet carbon dioxide emission level to 140 grams per kilometer by the year 2008. Aside from the optimization of proven technologies and the development of fuel cell-powered vehicles ready for series production, the use of alternative fuels like natural gas play an important role in the company's strategy. "With the Astra station wagon 1.6 CNG we are offering our customers something no other manufacturer can provide. Its innovative technology makes it an exceptionally clean and economical all-purpose vehicle," said Klaudia Martini, Management Board Member for Corporate Communications at Adam Opel AG. "The Astra station wagon 1.6 CNG represents another important step for Opel on the road to sustainable mobility for the future," she added.