GM announced today a bi-fuel version of the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 HDs that can run either on regular gas or compressed natural gas.
The extended cab is powered by a 6.0-liter V-8 that makes the same horsepower and torque as you'd find in the base model with "a minimal loss" with CNG, said Mike Jones, GM's CNG product manager. The pickup will be available in long- and short-bed versions and two- and four-wheel drive.
The engine initially runs on gas, then automatically switches over to CNG once an optimum temperature is reached. When the CNG runs out, the engine transitions back to gas. A dashboard switch allows the driver to manually control which fuel is being used, Jones said.
The combination of the 17-gallon CNG tank and the standard 36-gallon gas tank provide more than 650 miles of range, GM says. When running on regular gas, the bifuel pickup should achieve the same gas mileage. Jones did not give exact fuel economy ratings when the system is running on CNG but we would guess, like most CNG powertrains, it will be a little less than gasoline.
CNG offers benefits in increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. It generates 25 percent less carbon dioxide and is in abundant supply. The infrastructure is growing, too. Since 2009, the number of CNG stations has increased 26 percent.
Over three years, truck owners could see savings between $6,000 and $10,500, Jones said.
No pricing was announced, but this model is likely aimed at fleet and commercial buyers that have the proper infrastructure to sustain CNG vehicles. California, Utah, Oklahoma and New York are among the biggest markets for CNG vehicles.
The conversion of the pickups into bi-fuel trucks is being handled by IMPCO Automotive and will cut into the truck's payload and GCWR by 450 pounds.
Orders will begin in April, and shipments are expected toward the end of the year. We expect to have more details as this new product gets closer to its on-sale date.