Starting Thursday, fleet and retail customers can order the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and GMC Sierra 2500 HD bi-fuel vehicles, which run on regular gas or compressed natural gas, but they won't be inexpensive. The new powertrain option will add $11,000 to the base sticker price, but GM executives are quick to justify the price.
“Businesses are looking for ways to control their costs while reducing vehicle emissions and becoming less dependent on fluctuating gas prices. The low cost of ownership makes these vehicles a realistic solution,” said Joyce Mattman, director of GM commercial product and specialty vehicles. “CNG has maintained a significantly lower retail price than either gasoline or diesel. The current average price of CNG is equivalent to $1.89 per gallon of gasoline. Customers could save $5,000 to $10,000 over a three-year period, depending on their driving habits.”
With an average transaction price for the 2500 HD extended cab models in the low- to mid-$30,000 range, we're talking about a low-$40,000 work truck that many companies will likely keep in rotation, depending on the severity of the duty cycle, for several years or longer.
As a quick recap, the bi-fuel HDs were announced and shown at the 2012 NTEA Work Truck Show. The trucks will use a gasoline-powered standard 6.0-liter V-8 that can run on both CNG and gas, offering a 650-mile range. The heavy-duty trucks will only be offered in extended cab configurations but can be ordered with the long or short bed in two- or four-wheel drive.
The system is reported to offer seamless transitions from gas to CNG, with separate fuel gauges and control gear to allow for manual selections. The only significant modification (other than the huge storage tank in the bed) is the addition of an extra set of injectors on each bank. The system always starts with gasoline but then switches to CNG once the right parts are warmed up.
The HD trucks are built in the Fort Wayne, Ind., plant and sent to a supplier for the CNG storage and delivery system. All bi-fuel trucks are covered by GM's 3-year/36,000-mile vehicle limited warranty and 5-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.