Recently, Ford Motor Company announced that they will begin offering natural gas and propane options for the 2014 F-150, the nation’s most popular pickup truck. The new F-150 will be the first full-sized pickup available straight from a manufacturer that is already equipped with compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or propane fuel systems.

Both natural gas and propane have been used as alternative fuels for decades. CNG was first used as a transportation fuel in World War II and LPG was used as a transportation fuel as early as the 1940s.

CNG and LPG can offer significant benefits over conventional vehicles.

For instance, CNG is frequently produced domestically and using the fuel can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). CNG also provides cost benefits: while a gallon equivalent of CNG costs $2.10 (on average), an average gallon of unleaded gasoline costs $3.66. (See note at end of article.)

LPG is also frequently produced domestically—according to the EPA, 90% of the fuel used in the U.S. comes from domestic sources. It is a non-toxic, non-corrosive fuel that is free of additives. In addition, studies show that LPG produces fewer particulates than fuel-oil, and the carbon footprint of the fuel type is 20% lower than that of fuel oil and 50% lower than coal. Like CNG, LPG also provides cost benefits to consumers: an average gallon of propane costs $2.73, a 93 cents saving per gallon of fuel. (See note at end of article.)

Ford F-150

Ford Motor Company has announced that it will offer natural gas and propane options for its most popular pickup truck: the 2014 F-150. Credit: Ford Motor Company.

Up until now, the majority of natural gas vehicles have been purchased by fleets in the commercial sector. Propane vehicles have also been used most often in fleet applications, such as police squads, city shuttle services, or school bus transportation services. Ford hopes that the F-150 will help to change those trends and is offering non-commercial customers the option of purchasing its CNG/LPG version pickup trucks.

CNG/LPG engine prep from the Ford factory will cost customers approximately $315. In addition to the initial cost for engine prep at the factories, customers will have to pay for a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to supply their vehicle with fuel tanks, fuel lines, and unique fuel injectors. These upfits will cost customers anywhere from $7,500 to $9,500, depending on what size fuel tank they choose.

The lower costs of CNG/LPG fuel should help to offset these initial prices within 2 to 3 years, according to Ford Motor Company.

Ford estimates that they will sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles this year.

1. Numbers from Ford Motor Company’s press release, http://corporate.ford.com/news-center/press-releases-detail/ford-f-150-to-offer-ability-to-run-on-compressed-natural-gas

2. Numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/prices.html




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