The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Ind., reads the pulse of the vocational truck market, and rising fuel prices placed the emphasis on alternate fuels and increased economy. The Big 3 auto makers introduced options for compressed natural gas (CNG) pickup trucks (GM and Chrysler in their 2500 ranges), which is proving to be a preview of natural gas options being introduced for heavy trucks at the Mid-America Truck Show. Here are some innovations introduced at The Work Truck Show:
General Motors announced the addition of 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 HD extended cab bi-fuel pickups. Consumers can place orders beginning in April. These vehicles will be powered by a CNG-capable Vortec 6.0-liter V8 engine, available in a long or short bed, two-wheel or four-wheel drive.
“CNG is unique in that it is not attached to the price of oil,” says Joyce Mattman, director, GM commercial product and specialty vehicles. “Over time, it has maintained a lower retail price than both gasoline and diesel fuel.” The average price tends to range from $2.15 to $2.25. “Some states are under $2.00. It really differs widely by state. Savings can range anywhere from $6,000 to $10,500 over a three-year period.”
Availability of CNG looks promising. “Right here in the U.S., we have about a 100-year supply,” says Mike Jones, CNG Product Manager, General Motors. And infrastructure continues to grow. “Since 2009, we have had a 26% increase in the number of CNG stations across the country. Some states have more developed infrastructure than others. The most developed states are California, New York, Utah and Oklahoma.”
The GM bi-fuel pickups run on gasoline and CNG. The composite Type 3 CNG tank holds 17 gallons. It is made of material with an aluminum liner and a carbon fiber wrap.
“The tank is not as large as some of the tanks used in the aftermarket," says Jones. "We did this because it provides the space we need with the bed of the vehicle to make sure there is enough clearance between the bed wall and the tank itself.”
Together with the 36-gallon gasoline tank, the pickups have a combined range of over 650 miles.
“The truck will always start on gasoline and then switches over automatically (to CNG fuel) within a few minutes after the truck reaches the appropriate operating temperature,” explains Jones. “It will continue operating on CNG until the CNG tank is depleted, and then it will automatically transition over to gasoline. However, the driver can switch the vehicle from CNG to gasoline any time by using the switch on the dash.”
The bi-fuel commercial trucks will be covered by a three-year, 36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and a five-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.
The new full-size 2013 Transit van will be available with Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 gasoline engine. It promises at least 25% better fuel efficiency than the E-Series vans. Part of the fuel savings is due to the almost 300-lb. weight savings.
"The new Ford Transit commercial van will deliver all the capability and capacity that customers get with today's E-Series, but with the bonus of improved fuel economy and potentially lower operating costs thanks to its available EcoBoost engine," says Tim Stoehr, Ford commercial truck marketing manager. "This engine has revolutionized the half-ton pickup segment for F-150 and we're expecting it will have the same effect on commercial vans."
The rear-wheel drive Transit has been a commercial success in Europe for several years.
The EcoBoost engine is central to the Ford strategy of producing technologically advanced, high-output, smaller-displacement powertrains that deliver increased fuel economy. The company plans to produce up to 1.5 million EcoBoost engines globally in a wide variety of vehicles from small cars to trucks.
The Transit will eventually replace the E-Series. According to Rob Stevens, cheif namplate engineer.