Compressed natural gas isn’t just for fleets anymore.
More “regular customers” are interested in a cheaper alternative to gasoline, said Jeff Caldwell, commercial accounts manager at Reynolds Ford in Norman, especially since tax credits can make the switch more affordable.
“It pays for itself pretty quick,” he said.
Justin Steckman, general manager of Heartland CNG Conversions, said the new CNG-ready Ford F-150 pickup with a 3.6-liter, V6 engine gets as much as 28 mpg if conditions are right.
“It’s a phenomenal little engine. Not enough people know about it,” he said. “It’s perfect for someone who needs a truck that doesn’t have to pull heavy weights.”
Lower fuel mileage
The truck, which can be seamlessly converted to run on CNG without affecting the warranty, is perfect for city commuters looking to save money on fuel, Steckman said.
He said other F-150s, like the one he drives, get about 19 mpg.
“Oklahomans need to know about it,” Steckman said. “It’s getting better gas mileage on CNG.”
The F-150 with the gaseous prep package, which makes it easier to convert to CNG, will be produced through August, Caldwell said. Ford is retooling its entire vehicle line for 2015. The gaseous prep engine is expected to be in next year’s Transit van, but not any Ford pickups.
This year’s F-150s, which are equipped in the factory with upgraded components designed for handling natural gas, are available by special order from any Ford dealership nationwide. The $315 upgrade includes hardened intake and exhaust valves and feeds along with specially designed pistons and piston rings.
They can be converted to CNG for as little as $8,500, thanks to advances that have made fuel tanks cheaper, Steckman said.
He said trucks won’t need their first service check for 15,000 miles after the conversion.
“They just run so well,” Steckman said.
Caldwell said he has several of the trucks on the lot in Norman, with several versions available to satisfy customers’ needs. He said most fleet operators choose the basic truck package, but most people want different options.
“I try to keep several in stock,” he said.
Ford did not have a half-ton pickup that could be easily converted to CNG before this model was introduced last year, Caldwell said, adding there are few drawbacks to the CNG version, especially as the fuel becomes more readily available.
Oklahoma has 74 CNG fueling stations, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, with more in the works.