A battle is brewing in the world of fuel for full-size trucks. Ford and GM announced this week that they’ll invest in technology and partnerships to allow their V-8 pickups to run on compressed natural gas, or CNG.
The move is aimed at providing commercial truck users a more economical way to power their fleets and take advantage of the fact the fuel is sourced in North America.
Companies like Roush, Westport and IMPCO have long been huge CNG conversion centers for large and small businesses that have wanted to convert their fleet vehicles to the much less expensive fuel. With Ford and GM jumping into the fuel-system conversion segment, they’ll have more control over installation quality and warranty issues.
Right now, GM is the only manufacturer that provides a single-source commercial option with the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana CNG cargo vans. Adding a bifuel CNG pickup truck will likely help satisfy a broader range of needs for commercial customers looking for a one-stop alternative-fuel vehicle from the factory. This also will allow business owners to spend less on costly upfitting.
“GM’s original equipment is engineered, validated and warranted, which makes the decision to purchase our bifuel pickup trucks easy,” said Joyce Mattman GM’s director of commercial product and specialty vehicles. “Like our CNG vans, this turnkey product will be the best solution in the market and makes good business sense.”
The bifuel commercial trucks will be covered by GM’s three-year, 36,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty and five-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and vehicle emissions warranty, meeting all EPA and California Air Resources Board emission certification requirements.
The Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty will be available with Westport’s WiNG bifuel system.
“We’re seeing strong customer interest across the spectrum from fleets of all shapes and sizes for a factory-validated product, as more and more owners understand the economic and operational benefits of a cleaner fuel that’s sourced right here in North America,” said Ian Scott, president of Westport LD.
Engineered at the new Westport facility in Plymouth, Mich., WiNG systems will be installed in the F-250 and F-350 pickups and will be ready to roll when they reach Ford dealers. They are designed to meet EPA and CARB standards. The conversion requires the changing of only a handful of parts and is reported to offer only small decreases in overall power. Towing and payload numbers are unaffected.