By Dave Lee
On Thursday, GM announced that production of the bifuel versions of the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD and GMC Sierra 2500 HD are under way in Fort Wayne, Ind. The company has been taking orders from fleet and retail customers since April, and the pickup truckss can still be ordered through Chevy and GMC dealers.
The $11,000 upgrade allows the trucks to switch seamlessly between regular gas and compressed natural gas. The two tanks produce a combined range of 650 miles, the longest bifuel range of any original equipment automaker, GM says. The announcement comes just a few weeks after Ram started production of its bi-fuel Ram 2500.
The heavy-duty trucks, which come with a 6.0-liter V-8, will be offered only in extended cab configurations but can be ordered with the long or short bed in two- or four-wheel drive.
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, said Mike Jones, GM's CNG product manager.
“Customers are choosing our bifuel trucks because they provide the same high level of GM truck performance and versatility but can also help businesses control their fuel costs and reduce their carbon footprint,” said Ed Peper, GM's U.S. vice president of fleet and commercial sales.
Both Ford and Ram Trucks offer there own versions of the bifuel CNG systems, with the former allowing suppliers to take Super Dutys right off the line of the Kentucky Truck Plant to install the conversion, while the latter does the conversions to Ram HDs right in the HD plant in Mexico. And both dual-fuel HD pickups can be bought through normal dealership channels. Much will depend on fuel availabilty, but we're guessing these options will need to come down in price to become more popular with regular consumers. For now, they'll likely stay with large fleet buyers in relatively small numbers.
Watch the video below for a rundown of the CNG pickups.