Last week, Ford announced that its 2016 F-150 truck will have an available gaseous-fuel prep package that enables 5.0-liter, V8-powered models to run on clean, low-cost compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane, making Ford the only manufacturer of a CNG/propane-capable half-ton pickup.
Next year’s F-150 will be available for order this summer. Along with the factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package, the new model includes upgraded intake and exhaust valves and valve seats to ensure the engine performs to customers’ expectations.
“We surveyed customers likely to use natural gas or propane, and 72 percent told us they want to have these alternative-fuel capabilities available on F-150 with the 5.0-liter V8 engine,” Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager, said in a recent statement. “We expect the gaseous-fuel prep package will be even more popular than it was on the 2014 F-150 with the 3.7-liter V6 engine, given the capability of the 2016 F-150 5.0-liter V8.”
Compressed natural gas is mainly composed of methane. It is stored and distributed in hard containers at a pressure of approximately 3,600 psi. Approximately 85 percent of the CNG used in the United States is produced domestically and vehicles operating on CNG can reduce tailpipe CO2 emissions by approximately 20 percent when compared with the same vehicle operating on gasoline.
Converting to CNG/propane can also protect drivers from fluctuating fuel prices and can lower vehicle operating costs for fleet administrators. As of April 30, 2015 the average CNG costs about $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and is as low as $1 in some parts of the country. Unleaded regular fuel averages about $2.58 per gallon, while diesel sells for an average $2.81 per gallon, as of April 30.
Since 2009, Ford has sold more than 57,000 CNG/propane-prepped vehicles – seven times more than all other major U.S. automakers combined. Sales have steadily grown each year for the last five years, with a record 16,821 commercial vehicles with CNG/propane gaseous engine-prep packages in 2014.
“The growth in interest for CNG/propane-prepped vehicles shows a shift in fleet customers’ mindsets,” says Dick Cupka, Ford’s commercial vehicle sustainability leader. “They are becoming more forward-thinking about alternative fuels, taking into account their total cost of ownership and looking for ways to reduce their vehicle emissions.”
The F-Series Super Duty trucks have been the most popular vehicles for CNG/propane engines, however Ford sold over 2,000 prep kits for the 2014 F-150, over 40 percent more than was expected.
The new 2015 Ford Transit has sold 836 CNG/propane-prepped vans and wagons since it became available in the U.S. in June 2014. Transit is America’s best-selling commercial van, based on total U.S. reported sales in the first quarter of 2015, contributing to Ford’s best first-quarter overall commercial van sales performance since 1995. It’s also the only compact van sold in the United States with a CNG/propane-prepped engine option. Sales of CNG/propane-prepped 2015 Transit vans and wagons have already surpassed the 2014 model year sales.
With the addition of the 2016 F-150, Ford will offer eight vehicle lines with an available CNG/propane prep option, ranging from Transit Connect to F-750. Ford has expanded its portfolio since 2010, when it offered CNG/propane prep on E-Series vans and wagons only.
Speaking of converting to more sustainable fuels, Chevy announced in October that its new Bi-Fuel Impala will be able to run on organic food waste. Cleveland-based quasar energy group uses organic waste to produce biogas — the raw mixture of gases given off by the breakdown of organic materials kept in an oxygen-less environment. The resulting methane gas is then processed, removing all carbon dioxide and impurities to make Renewable Natural Gas (RNG). When compressed, RNG is a direct replacement for CNG — one of two fuels that can power the 2015 Bi-fuel Impala.