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Is CNG Finally Ready for Prime Time?

Fuel is cheap, plentiful, so why isn’t it getting wider use?

by on Oct.09, 2012

The Ram 2500 Heavy Duty is one of the rare vehicles offering a factory CNG package.

Chrysler has landed orders from 19 states to supply Ram 2500 Heavy Duty pickup trucks running on compressed natural gas.

The move comes as 22 states form a coalition to promote the use of the cheap, plentiful and relatively clean fuel. The coalition has told U.S. automakers that if they build vehicles capable of running on CNG orders will run anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 annually.

“That should be enough to get them to move,” said John Hickenlooper, the governor of Colorado which has been one of the states taking the lead in the effort to promote the use of CNG.

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Compressed natural gas is gaining a lot of attention lately.  Traditionally used for home heating as well as industrial applications, CNG is winning converts even in the environmental movement.  While it is considered a fossil fuel its chemical structure contains less carbon than petroleum or coal and that means that in a motor vehicle it produces 60 to 90% fewer smog-causing pollutants and 30 to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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GM, Chrysler Launch Natural Gas Pickup Options

Proponents push for shift to cheap, plentiful petrol alternative.

by on Mar.06, 2012

Supplier IMPCO Automotive will handle conversions of GM vans and pickups to use low-cost, cleaner CNG.

It’s a good week for those who’d like to see American motorists shift from imported oil to the plentiful domestic supply of natural gas.  Chrysler plans to announce today that it will offer an NGV option for its big Ram pickup – following the lead of General Motors which will offer bi-fuel packages for both its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Momentum has slowly been growing for natural gas power after years of neglect.  That appears to reflect several factors – notably the increased availability of the fuel from domestic sources, the fact that CNG produces less CO2 per mile than petroleum products, and the rapidly rising cost of gasoline.

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Until recently, Honda was the only maker marketing natural gas-powered vehicles – notably a dedicated version of the 2012 Civic model. But the list could grow rapidly – though the biggest challenge remains finding ready locations to fill up.

That’s led GM to go the bi-fuel route with the heavy-duty versions of its Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.  Motorists will be able to choose between CNG and regular gasoline on the fly.  When one tank runs dry they’ll be able to hot a switch and keep going, something that should be doubly appealing to work truck users who want to hold down costs but avoid service disruptions.

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