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?