As part of its continued push to put more compressed natural gas work vehicles on the road, Ford just announced it will offer the 2014 Ford F-150 with a CNG prep package at a cost of $315. It will be available this fall. This will make Ford's popular half-ton pickup the first and only truck in the segment to offer the option to customers.
The prep package, available for all F-150s equipped with the naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V-6, includes only a few modified or hardened engine pieces for dealing with the non-lubricating gaseous fuels, like CNG and autogas (the latter is commonly known as propane or liquefied petroleum gas).
We had the chance to talk to Dick Cupka (pronounced Kup-kee), Ford product development chief for sustainability for commercial vehicles, who is very optimistic about CNG's future. "For the last few years, we've been doubling the number of these vehicles sold…Ford has a long history with alternative fuels but nobody offers the variety of vehicles we do," Cupka said.
The Super Dutys are the most popular vehicles in the Ford commercial fleet when selecting the CNG/LPG package, but there are quite a few others as well. The CNG/LPG prep package already includes the Transit Connect and E-Series vans, all F-250 and F-350 Super Duties (including the F-350 chassis cab), the F-650 medium-duty truck and the commercial grade F53 and F59 stripped chassis platforms. Additionally, when the full-size Transit van comes on line, it too will offer the prep package, giving it a powertrain reach like no other vehicle (with a gas 3.7-liter V-6, CNG or bi-fuel 3.7-liter V-6, EcoBoost twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 and a turbo-diesel 3.2-liter I-5).
Installation is likely to cost between $7,500 and $9,500. All installation suppliers (there likely will be several near the F-150 Kansas City, Mo., plant) will have to be a Ford qualified vehicle modifier in order to install the system on an F-150. This is Ford's way of trying to make sure the alternative-fuel modifiers meet its standards. This particular bi-fuel system (pictured) from Venchurs Vehicle Systems can also be ordered on Super Dutys with the 6.2L V-8.
Ford maintains the engine and powertrain warranty (five years or 60,000 miles) for all CNG vehicles, while the installer of the alternative fuel system is responsible for the system components. How and where you drive your pickup truck will determine which setup is right for you, Cupka said.
Although the CNG option may not sound like a huge deal up front, depending on CNG prices in your area and how you drive, you could make your money back in as few as two years. Current unleaded gas prices in U.S. are hovering at just less than $4 per gallon, while the average CNG price for a gallon equivalent is just more than $2. Even if you get the bi-fuel option, where your F-150 runs on gasoline and CNG, the extended range and fuel savings will quickly add up.
To see the full press release, click here.