Ford to offer Optional Natural Gas Engine for F-150 Pick-up Trucks
Ford Motor Company announced on July 31, 2013 that they will start offering a natural gas engine option for their F-150 pick-up trucks beginning with the 2014 models available later this year. While the CNG option will cost about $10,000 more, fleet owners can expect to recoup the additional cost within 2-3 years due to the lower price of natural gas vs. gasoline.
The low cost of natural gas is due mainly to the market surplus caused by thousands of new gas wells being drilled in the Marcellus Shale region of PA and elsewhere in the US. CNG sells for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and as little as $1 in some parts of the country while the national average for unleaded regular gasoline is $3.66 nationwide. Ford will now have eight commercial vehicles with a CNG option, including its Transit Connect van and wagon, popular with taxi fleets. Ford is on track to sell 15,000 CNG-prepped vehicles this year, a 25 percent increase over 2012.
CNG conversion kits have been available for several years by several third parties and are installed by such firms as Zoresco in the Pittsburgh region. According to Zoresco’s web site, they offer CNG conversions for several Ford vans as well as the popular series pick-up trucks (F-150, F-250, F-350, F450, and F550). Engine sizes range from a 2 liter, 4 cylinder engine for a small van to a 6.8 liter V-10 engine for their largest pick-up trucks.
One major problem facing the CNG trucking industry is the lack of fueling stations. The Pittsburgh Business Times reported recently that by the end of 2013 there will be 11 CNG stations open to the public in the greater Pittsburgh area. Columbus Ohio recently began construction of their 2nd CNG station.
Obviously, the greater use of domestic natural gas in vehicles helps balance the demand with the ever growing supply of natural gas and reduces the US dependance on imported foreign oil. Some experts predict that the US could be energy independent within 10-20 years.