Chrysler Group LLC on Wednesday delivered the first of 242 new compressed natural gas-fueled 2013 Ram 2500 pickups to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and other state agencies.
The state's order is Chrysler's largest since it began producing CNG trucks in October.
Chrysler's Ram is the only CNG-powered pickup in North America built by an original equipment manufacturer. The bi-fuel trucks were built at Chrysler's heavy-duty truck plant in Mexico.
Gov. Mary Fallin took the keys to one of the trucks from Peter Grady, Chrysler's vice president of network development and fleet.
“Chrysler Group is delighted that we can deliver these unique Ram pickup trucks today to Gov. Fallin, a steadfast champion in the use of compressed natural gas vehicles in state fleets,” Grady said.
“Through the governor's tireless efforts to form a coalition of states, 13 Ram Truck dealers have landed contracts with 19 states to supply their fleets with the new Ram 2500 CNG pickup trucks,” he said.
Fallin led a bipartisan coalition of 22 states interested in adding more CNG vehicles to their fleets. Natural gas is a cheaper, cleaner fuel than gasoline or diesel.
“Converting the state's fleet to CNG will save taxpayers millions of dollars in fuel costs,” Fallin said. “The use of cleaner-burning CNG fuel is good for the environment and promotes Oklahoma-made natural gas, which in turn supports the creation of more Oklahoma jobs.
“Our multistate bidding process was aimed at encouraging automakers to provide states with more affordable and more functional CNG vehicles.”
Grady said the states' interest in natural gas speed up the development of its CNG vehicles, leveraging its alliance with Italian automaker Fiat.
“We, as a company, see the future with compressed natural gas,” he said.
Chrysler engineered its CNG trucks so they can be built alongside gasoline and diesel trucks, rather than being converted to run on natural gas by a third party.
“It's a much more efficient way to do it,” Grady said.
The Ram pickups are bi-fuel vehicles, with natural gas as the primary fuel source. They have capacity of 18.2 gallons of CNG and 8 gallons of gasoline, switching seamlessly between the two as needed.
The trucks delivered Wednesday to the Transportation Department were purchased through John Vance Motors in Guthrie. They will be used primarily as service trucks on the state's roads and highways.
“These are heavy-duty trucks and we have highway crews in every county in the state who will put them to work immediately,” Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley said in a statement.