Official: 2014 Ford F-150 gets CNG option

Filed under: Truck, Work, Ford

Ford is toiling away, installing heavy-duty engine components into select 3.7-liter V6s to allow them to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in addition to gasoline. That’s nothing new, but now, Ford has announced that it will offer the 2014 F-150 with this engine configuration, bringing the Blue Oval’s total number of CNG/LPG-friendly vehicles up to eight. The F-150 will be the only half-ton pickup on the market that can run on these gases.

Ford will charge $315 per vehicle to equip the optional engine, but the trucks won’t be ready to run on the alternative fuels straight from the factory and must be upfitted with additional equipment. A Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier will install a separate fuel system for the compressed gases at a cost of $7,500 to $9,500, depending on fuel tank size. With the right-size tank, the F-150 equipped with the CNG/LPG-prepped engine can go 750 miles on one tank of gas, according to Ford, averaging 23 miles per gallon.

The practice of offering flex-fuel vehicles is gaining momentum as businesses take advantage of cheap gas. CNG can be bought for $2.11/gallon on average (per gasoline equivalent), and sometimes for as little as $1.00 in some parts of the US, Ford states. “With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months,” says Jon Coleman, Ford’s fleet sustainability and technology manager. The automaker expects to sell a total of 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles in the 2014 model year.

Check out the press release below to read the details, and to see what other vehicles Ford offers with the CNG/LPG package.

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2014 Ford F-150 gets CNG option originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Quick Spin: Ford Mustang GT Bi-Fuel CNG

Filed under: Coupe, Hybrid, Performance, Ford, Quick Spins

2013 Ford Mustang GT Bi-Fuel - front three-quarter view
Highly intrigued, we recently visited a Southern California Gas Company office to check out several hybrid vehicles promising something new. Unlike more commonplace gasoline-electric hybrids, we were there to evaluate innovative gasoline-compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrids – yes, they run on unleaded gasoline and compressed natural gas. According to the experts on hand, this arrangement delivers extended range and reduced emissions while chipping in with lower operating costs than pure-gasoline vehicles. There are advantages over its gasoline-electric counterparts, as well.

The program is part of a three-way collaboration between The Carlab, a Southern California-based automotive consulting firm, Landi Renzo USA, a company specializing in alternative fuel solutions, and America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a group that promotes CNG. Long story short, the team has engineered a way to allow a modified internal combustion vehicle to seamlessly switch between two fuels (gasoline and CNG) with no driver intervention. In theory, and if it works as well as promised, it’s a win-win for the vehicle owner and the environment.

Parked at the Gas Company office were six different gasoline-CNG hybrid vehicles. To demonstrate the technology’s versatility (just about any gasoline vehicle may be modified) Carlab brought a varied assortment of bodystyles, each from a different automaker. After taking a quick glance at the half-dozen in the parking lot, we made a beeline for the performance-oriented Ford Mustang GT – a 2012 model – with the six-speed manual gearbox.

Driving Notes:

  • The conversion to bi-fuel requires the installation of a four-gallon composite CNG tank (3,600 psi) beneath the rear trunk liner, CNG bi-fuel port injectors, a special fuel controller, integrated dash display and some other hardware. With the exception of the blue “CNG” diamond on the rear of the trunk, the exterior of this Mustang hybrid offers little clue to what type of fuel it consumes. The interior of the cabin is equally discreet, but a closer look at the digital panel on the instrument cluster reveals an OEM-like four-bar “GGE” gauge with the tank level. Peering under the hood, the only obvious changes are the new injectors (the CNG tank is filled through a nipple located behind the OEM fuel filler door). The conversion adds about 150 pounds to the coupe’s curb weight.
  • From a driver’s standpoint, vehicle operation is unchanged. A sophisticated controller determines which fuel is best for the job (or a mix of both), so gasoline is often used for the cold start. However, after a few moments of operation, the vehicle will seamlessly switch to more efficient CNG operation for partial throttle and during cruising. A firm press on the accelerator immediately delivers gasoline into the combustion chamber, bringing the Mustang’s full 420 horsepower on tap. During our drive of the manual transmission coupe, we noticed a very slight delay – almost a hiccup – at about 3,000 rpm during the bi-fuel transition (we later drove a BMW X3 automatic, and the changeover from CNG to gasoline was unnoticeable). Once it made it over this hurdle, power delivery was smooth and strong.
  • In addition to the improved efficiency and lack of power compromise, the CNG tank provides a bonus boost in vehicle range. The tank is good for about 55 extra miles, so it adds upwards of 20 percent to the Mustang’s cruising distance. That’s a nice plus.
  • Carlab is touting the gasoline-CNG bi-fuel model as an alternative to plug-in hybrids. Instead of heavy battery packs requiring nightly charging, they envision a world where owners would have a home CNG refill station that would make fueling effortless and bring prices down to about $.80/gallon – a fraction of the price of gasoline.
  • The cost of conversion to the typical passenger vehicle is slightly less than $3,000 (assuming a production rate of 20,000 annual units), meaning the average owner would earn back the cost after about 2.2 years – that’s quicker that the return on investment for a Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt or Toyota Prius, says Carlab.
  • While we were impressed after our first experience with the hybrid gasoline-CNG vehicles, natural gas still has a mountain of hurdles to overcome. Even if one assumes that the non-renewable resource may be easily obtained, the refueling infrastructure will take many years to build.

Ford Mustang GT Bi-Fuel CNG originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Jul 2013 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Tata Nano updated, world’s cheapest car gets CNG option

Filed under: Coupe, Budget, India, MISC

2013 Tata Nano - blue

Back when it went on sale in 2008, the Tata Nano was heralded as something of a new Model T for developing economies. As the world’s cheapest new car – and not by a little – the four-door Indian runabout was poised to usher in a new age of personal transportation to the world. But things didn’t quite work out that way, and the discount rear-drive minicar has seen its sales fortunes undone by all manner of issues, from reports of fires and quality issues to protests at its assembly plant and poor public reception. But Tata Motors isn’t giving up on the Nano just yet, having just unveiled a newly updated design and a compressed natural gas (CNG) model.

The new updates don’t register as much more than a mid-cycle refresh, with small differences outside like a new rear fascia with mesh inserts and additional chrome trim. More meaningful updates indoors include a revamped center console and a new twin glovebox, updated upholstery, body-color trim bits and available extras that include remote keyless entry, a four-speaker AmphiStream audio setup with Bluetooth and USB hookups. Minor controls have also been relocated for improved ergonomics, and there’s a slightly larger steering wheel to ease parking maneuvers. In addition, a range of new personalization kits are available, including things like body graphics, aero kits, different alloy wheels and contrasting roof treatments.

The conventional two-cylinder gas powertrain remains unchanged, giving 37 horsepower. The new bi-fuel Emax model runs on gasoline and, with the flick of a switch, CNG. The four-stroke, 624-cc engine features an aluminum head and block, and it offers 37 hp on gas and 33 on CNG, while the torque peak sits at 38 lb-ft under gasoline power and 33 lb-ft on natural gas.

Along with the revamped Nano, Tata Motors also rolled out updated versions of its Indica, Indigo, Safari and Sumo models.

Tata Nano updated, world’s cheapest car gets CNG option originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 20 Jun 2013 13:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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