Automakers have slashed the cost of compressed natural gas vehicles in bids to 22 states that have banded together in seeking more affordable options for cars, trucks and vans that run on the alternative fuel.
More than 100 Ford, Chrysler, General Motors and Honda dealers in 28 states submitted bids for natural gas vehicles.
Officials said carmakers have cut the difference cost between standard cars, trucks and vans and their natural gas counterparts by about half. Bids offered savings of up to $5,800, or 16 percent, on three-quarter ton pickups.
“It's been even better than what we thought it would be,” Gov. Mary Fallin said.
Fallin and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who led the multistate initiative, unveiled the preliminary bids Thursday at the 2012 Governor's Energy Conference in Oklahoma City.
Full bid details will be released Friday morning to all states involved in the request for proposals issued in July.
Thirteen other governors have signed on to the bipartisan effort launched last year by Fallin, a Republican, and Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Seven more states joined the bid request because they are interested in buying CNG vehicles for their fleets.
“The initiative has been enormously successful,” Fallin said. “We asked auto manufacturers to develop products that were more affordable and functional. With the combined purchasing power of our 22 states, we successfully provided the incentive to do so.
“States will now have the incentive and ability to begin converting their fleets to CNG while saving millions of dollars in taxpayer money.”
Fallin estimated Oklahoma could save up to $20,000 in net fuel costs over the life of a vehicle by switching to natural gas over gasoline or diesel.
Oklahoma typically has about 11,000 vehicles in its fleet, she said. Nearly 40 percent of the vehicles in the state's current fleet have more than 100,000 miles on them.
Fallin said the state buys as many as 700 new vehicles a year, so she wants to begin moving to CNG to save money and increase demand for natural gas.
The resource is abundant in Oklahoma, which is the nation's fourth-largest producer of natural gas.
Hickenlooper said natural gas is cleaner and cheaper than oil, as evidenced by studies that show increased natural gas use has lowered carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. to levels not seen in 50 years.
He also said the demand shown by state purchasing agents will lead to more CNG fueling stations being built around the country.
Oklahoma has more than 63 public fueling stations, the most per capita of any state in the country, Fallin said.
Colorado has 28 fueling stations, but Hickenlooper said they are located along major interstates.
At a glance
Savings on CNG vehicle bids
States interested in buying compressed natural gas vehicles have received bids for several different cars, trucks and vans. Lower prices are expected to make it more economical for states to switch to CNG.