Ford Begins Production Of CNG/LPG-Capable F-150

The first Ford F-150 with the ability to run on compressed natural gas has rolled off the line at The Blue Oval’s Kansas City plant in Missouri, making Ford the only manufacturer with an available CNG/LPG-capable full-size half-ton pickup truck.

The factory-installed gaseous-fuel prep package consists of hardened valves, valve seats, pistons, and rings — allowing it to operate on either natural gas or gasoline through separate fuel systems. When equipped with a bi-fuel CNG/LPG engine package, an F-150 with the 3.7-liter Duratec V6 can achieve a total range of over 750 miles on combined tanks of gasoline and CNG, with the total range depending on the size of the tanks. To note, a 4×2 F-150 with the 3.7-liter V6 has an EPA-estimated rating of 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined.

According to Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager, Ford decided to offer the CNG/LPG prep package in response to request from business and fleet customers. The factory-installed engine prep package costs $315 before a customer-selected Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier supplies fuel tanks, fuel lines, and unique fuel injectors. Upfits usually run in the vicinity of $6,000 to $9,500, depending on fuel tank capacity.

CNG conversions are often associated with clean emissions, but they can also provide substantial fuel-related savings thanks to ┬áthe low price of the CNG/LPG fuel. To that end, CNG conversions can often deliver stability against fluctuating gasoline prices, resulting in lower vehicle operating costs for fleets. According to Ford, CNG sells for an average of $2.10 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, with some parts of the U.S. selling the fuel for as low as $1 per gallon. The financial advantage is obvious when the price of unleaded regular gasoline fuel — at $3.29 per gallon on average — is taken into consideration.

Some customers will be able to accelerate the payback period of their CNG conversion by utilizing state-specific incentives. Currently, nearly 20 states, including Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, offer or will soon offer tax incentives or rebates for CNG-converted vehicles. Fleet customers in Florida, for instance, will be eligible for rebates up to $25,000 beginning in 2014.

Are you or your fleet planning on a CNG/LPG conversion for your F-150? Talk to us in the comments.

The Motrolix Take

Given that Ford is the only manufacturer to offer a factory-backed CNG/LPG program, we expect it to gain incremental sales from fleets around the country interested in the conversion. Notably, Ford is beginning to offer the CNG/LPG conversion very late in the lifecycle of the 12th-generation F-150, making us wonder how long it will take the automaker to offer a similar program on the upcoming all-new 2015 F-150.

Motrolix Founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

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