This July, Chrysler became the first auto manufacturer in North America to offer a factory-built compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) pickup truck. The new Ram 2500 Heavy Duty CNG pickup was designed for both fleet and commercial customers.

“Commercial customers are extremely important to Ram Truck,” said President and CEO of Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico, Fred Diaz, “Adding a hard-working, fully capable CNG-powered truck to the Ram lineup makes a lot of sense – both economically and environmentally.”

“Our commercial fleet customers have been asking us to build a CNG-powered Ram,” said Peter Grady, Chrysler’s Vice President of Network Development and Fleet. “These fleets have already developed their own fleet fueling infrastructure for CNG, and are strong proponents of the technology.”

A cutaway view of the new Ram 2500 CNG. Credit: Chrysler Motors LLC.

The Ram HD CNG is powered by the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and features both compressed gas storage tanks and an 8-gallon gasoline fuel tank. The engine has been modified to run on compressed natural gas as well as gasoline. Redesigned cylinder heads with specifically designed CNG compatible valves and valve-seat materials allow the engine to burn both fuels. It also has a CNG-specific fuel rail and set of injectors. The power train control module allows the HEMI to seamlessly operate on either of the two fuel sources.

“Compressed natural gas is a widely accepted fuel in the U.S., Europe and Asia,” said Robert E. Lee, Chrysler’s Vice President and Head of Engine and Electrified Propulsion Engineering. “As a fuel, CNG is readily available, well-suited to run in our 5.7-liter HEMI engine and is clean-burning with a low environmental impact. In fact, CNG demonstrates a reduction of 70 to 90 percent of smog-producing pollutants and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”

In use, the system is automatic and utilizes either CNG or gasoline, transitioning from one to the other with little discernible difference in operation or capability. Although a small amount of gasoline is used during engine startup, the Ram CNG runs exclusively on compressed natural gas. If the CNG tanks are emptied, the vehicle will automatically switch to gasoline. In addition to a conventional gasoline fuel gauge, a second CNG-specific gauge sits adjacent to it in the instrument cluster.

CNG-only range is estimated to be 255 miles, while the backup supply of gasoline extends the range to 367 total miles.

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