OKARCHE — OEM Systems LLC has gotten Ford's stamp of approval to modify the automaker's trucks and vans to run on compressed natural gas.
The Okarche company recently earned qualified vehicle modifier certification, which means OEM has met all of Ford's safety standards and facility requirements.
OEM is the eighth company in the United States to earn that qualification.
“It's exciting for us,” said John Luber, OEM's director of CNG strategies.
Taren Robinson, OEM's contract administrator, said such certification is a marketing tool that reassures customers of the company's qualifications in doing CNG conversions.
OEM has been doing CNG conversions since the fall of 2007. The company, which celebrated its 2000th CNG conversion in February, already is a sales leader for GM vehicles, but officials wanted to sell more Ford vehicles.
“It just seemed like it was a natural progression,” Luber said.
The company's new certification will allow OEM to convert heavy-duty Ford pickups and vans to run on CNG, without jeopardizing Ford's engine and powertrain warranties, Robinson said.
She said Ford vehicles account for about 20 percent of OEM's conversion business, but that figure is expected to rise with the company's new certification.
OEM also can convert some Dodge vehicles to CNG, but there hasn't been much demand for them.
The bulk of OEM's business is fleet-based, but Robinson said the company's retail customers are growing as CNG fueling infrastructure spreads. Retail conversions were up nearly 50 percent in 2011.
The company expects to complete its 3,000th conversion before the end of the year.