Cars Coming Soon: Ram 2500 HD and Other Natural Gas Trucks

Ram 2500 CNG

Will compressed natural gas replace oil?

General Motors and Chrysler are about to restart that conversation by selling full-size pickups that can seamlessly switch back and forth between CNG and gasoline. The trucks have two tanks, and drivers can choose which fuel they want to use. When one fuel runs out, the vehicles automatically switch to the other. That’s pretty slick, and I like the analogy it creates of running out of gasoline and switching to CNG.

Kind of like our country, maybe?

There is no question that, as President Obama said yesterday, oil is not the fuel of our future. We can’t expect to coast forever on oil, especially considering the U.S. is responsible for 20 percent of the world’s oil consumption but has only 2 percent of its reserves.

Why not power our cars with the same fuel that heats our houses? Perhaps Detroit agrees, as it plans to have more natural-gas-powered vehicles hit the market soon.

Starting in July, Chrysler will sell a Ram 2500 Heavy Duty pickup that runs on compressed natural gas. The truck can run for 255 miles on natural gas, and the range is extended to 367 miles using gasoline. The dashboard has gauges for both fuels, and the system switches seamlessly between the two fuels. Very cool!

General Motors is on board, too.

The Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and GMC Sierra 2500HD Extended-cab pickups will be offered with a 6.0-liter V8 engine that can transition between CNG and gasoline. The bi-fuel pickups will have tanks that can hold the equivalent of 17 gallons of CNG and 36 gallons of gasoline, giving the vehicles a combined range of more than 650 miles.

That will help curb the range anxiety of CNG-only vehicles and, eventually, start to wean American drivers from our gluttonous addiction to oil. Thanks, GM and Chrysler, for not going gas/electric hybrid on these trucks and starting to bring CNG into the mainstream.

There is no pricing yet, but expect a premium of at least a few thousand dollars over conventional gas-powered trucks. With prices of CNG hovering near $2 per gallon as gas approaches $5, it might be a wise investment.

Assuming plenty of refueling stations existed, would you be on board to replace gasoline with compressed natural gas?

-tgriffith

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5 Comments

  1. The only problem is that you can’t simply stick your gas line at home in your truck and refuel– CNG must be compressed, which creates the same kind of supply line bottlenecks we have with refining capacity. Add to that the competition of millions of vehicles and people heating their homes, factories and business places, and I think you’ll see a fuel like CNG selling at prices approaching that of gasoline, but at half the delivered mileage– certainly a good deal for the producers.
    On the other hand, Hydrogen, either for direct combustion or for EV fuel cell vehicles, offers much more promise. The government will need to fund a series of nuclear-powered production facilities to refine hydrogen from water, but given that a large percentage of the earth’s weight consists of seawater, and hydrogen-production facilities can also produce large amounts of minerals, chemicals and even precious metals from sea water, the investment in technology might make sense. Solar electric power can also be used to produce hydrogen. And best of all, hydrogen production is ZERO Carbon footprint, producing only water vapor.

  2. Yes yes yes! CNG stations should be integrated into current gas stations. These trucks could herald an all new future… this is really exciting!

  3. This is an excellent idea. These trucks are practical even if no CNG stations exist today (the gas tanks are normal sized) and if they are popular enough (it’s all up to the consumer!) we could see CNG stations popping up fairly quickly, and if the price stays at $2.00/gallon (I strongly urge the powers at be to not inflate the prices for the sake of it, I would recommend starting to increase reserves now and setting up a network of stations in advance, to take advantage of being the first ones available. If the prices go up, the demand will go down.) then these vehicles will become massively popular (Who wants to pay 3.70/gallon??? Nobody and it will hurt the auto industry, not the consumers. When gas is more expensive, people spend their money, then can’t afford to buy newer vehicles.) So let’s see these CNG vehicles made and distributed far and wide, but remember, there is always a right way and a wrong way to get things done.

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