- CNG averages $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and $1 in some of USA
BY GERRY MILES
The news may seem new, at least for the F-150, but it’s not to me.
Years ago, Ford brought around modified Crown Victorias – OK, it was a long time ago – with CNG tanks tucked neatly in the trunk behind the rear seat backs if memory serves and offered the same fuel-efficient options now being proffered.
Also, years ago, Volvo – then not under the Ford umbrella – and in conjunction with the Biosphere 2 Project out in Arizona where folks lived under a huge dome and grew what they ate and sustained them within their own contained system (think TV’s Big Brother but in a more socially friendly place-setting and an eco-friendly challenge to sustain them all).
In both cases above, the cars could switch or be switched seamlessly between CNG and conventional gas from the fuel pump without any discernible sacrifice in power. The chief problem, with rules that prohibited CNG travel under bridges, tunnels and the like in Boston from the fire department at the time (I’ve no idea what it’s like now with the Big Dig structures in place) were chiefly a lack of infrastructure to support a move to CNG or LPG.
And this was way, way before GM had its famed/failed EV1 and TV stars like Ed Begley and Alexandra Paul to want the mothballed electric cars before they were crushed. And that’s long before Al Gore invented the internet, wrote Love Story or tried to blamed young boys who liked climbing tree and perhaps building a tree fort were blamed for the alleged demise of tree owls in the Northwest. But I digress…
The 2014 Ford F-150 with 3.7-liter V-6 engine will be available this fall with a factory-installed, fuel prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings so it can operate on either natural gas or gasoline through separate fuel systems.
Ford notes that an F-150 with the CNG engine package has an estimated driving range over 750 miles, depending upon the tank size, averaging 23 highway mpgs.
The F-150 can be up-fit with 3 CNG capacities:
- 8.9 GGE
- 15.7 GGE
- 21.2 GGE
A Ford rep said the 750-mile range was a middle line estimation, referring to a 26-gallon unleaded gas fuel tank on the F-150, plus a 15.7 GGE tank.
A larger, 36-gallon unleaded fuel gas tank is also available instead of the standard 26-gallon gas tank, thereby extending cruising range by quite a bit.
“Businesses and fleet customers have been asking Ford to make F-150 available with CNG capability to take advantage of the fuel’s low price and clean emissions,” said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager. “With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months.”
CNG/LPG engine prep from the factory costs approximately $315 before the customer chooses a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines and unique fuel injectors. Up-fits run $7,500 to $9,500 depending on fuel tank capacity.
CNG conversions can provide stability against fluctuating fuel prices as well as lower vehicle operating costs for fleet administrators. CNG sells for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and is as low as $1 in some parts of the country, compared to the national average of $3.66 for unleaded regular.
In the next year, Ford will offer eight commercial vehicles with a gaseous-prep option, a number no other full-line manufacturer can match:
- Transit Connect van and wagon
- Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab
- E-Series van, wagon, cutaway and stripped chassis
- F-Series Super Duty pickup and F-350 chassis cab
- F-Series Super Duty chassis cab (F-450, F-550)
- F-650 medium-duty truck
- F53 and F59 stripped chassis
- 2014 F-150 light-duty pickup
Since the reintroduction of this option in 2009, Ford says it’s on pace to sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG vehicles this year, an increase of more than 25 percent from 2012.
AT&T recently purchased 650 F-350 chassis cabs with the CNG-prep option.
“We’re almost halfway to our company-wide goal of deploying 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles by the end of year 2018,” said Jerome Webber, AT&T vice president, global fleet operations. “Vehicles such as CNG F-350s from Ford have helped us avoid purchasing 7.7 million gallons of gasoline over the past five years while reducing our fleet’s emissions.”
Compressed natural gas is mainly composed of methane. It is stored and distributed in hard containers at approximately 3,600 psi. About 85 percent of the CNG used in the United States is produced domestically. According to the EPA, CNG usage can reduce greenhouse emissions up to 30 percent.
The program is offered nationally through Ford.