June 27, 2012 / 12:42 PM / in 5 years

Westport, GM sign second deal for natural gas engines

(Reuters) - Westport Innovations Inc WPT.TO WPRT.O, which develops natural gas-powered engines, said it signed a second deal with General Motors Co GM.N to develop a natural gas engine technology for light-duty vehicles.

Westport earlier this month signed an agreement with Caterpillar Inc CAT.N to develop engines that can use cheaper natural gas instead of diesel to power mining trucks and locomotives.

Major car makers such as Chrysler and GM are planning to roll out smaller vehicles that will run on the cleaner fuel as U.S. consumers are beginning to consider cheap natural gas as an alternative fuel to gasoline for transport.

Natural gas prices have plunged to a decade low as surging output from shale fields has flooded the market.

Natural gas, as a vehicle fuel, produces lower emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and greenhouse gases than petrol or diesel.

GM and Westport, which expects to gain from the rising use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, announced their first deal last June.

The companies are now developing two different combustion, controls and emissions approaches to natural gas engines.

“The expansion of our advanced natural gas technology collaboration with GM provides the potential for greater fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions for the industry and the consumer,” said Ian Scott, president of Westport’s light duty division.

U.S.-listed shares of Vancouver-based Westport rose as much as 11 percent to $35.95 in early trading on Wednesday.

The shares rose as much as 11 percent to C$36.86 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock was one of the top percentage gainers on the exchange.

GM shares were nearly flat at $19.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Maju Samuel

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