Ford Motor Co. will offer a compressed natural-gas engine in its 2014 model year F-150 pickups, the automaker's most popular vehicle.
Doing so will provide contractors and vehicle fleet owners the potential to save money in their annual operating costs.
A statement released by Ford (NYSE: F) said that the company will offer the 2014 F-150 with the ability to run on compressed natural gas, making Ford the only manufacturer with an available Compressed Natural Gas/Liquefied Petroleum Gas-capable half-ton pickup. The 2014 Ford F-150 with 3.7-liter V6 engine will be available this fall with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings so it can operate on either natural gas or gasoline through separate fuel systems.
Ford is on pace to sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles this year, an increase of more than 25 percent from 2012.
Business First reported in March, 2012 that DeLacy Ford in Elma was converting truck fleets to CNG. While it costs $11,000 to $15,000 to convert a truck from diesel to compressed natural gas, older trucks can't be converted.
A Forbes.com article said that truck buyers will pay around $10,000 more to buy the CNG version of the F-150, but that they could see a payback on their investment in as little as two to three years because natural gas prices are so much cheaper than gasoline or diesel fuel. Automakers have been offering large heavy-duty trucks that run on natural gas for some time, but Ford is the first manufacturer to offer a natural gas version of a half-ton pickup. Ford will now have eight commercial vehicles with a CNG option, including its Transit Connect van and wagon, popular with taxi fleets.
Ford, which operates a stamping plant in Woodlawn, is on track to sell 15,000 CNG-prepped vehicles this year, a 25 percent increase over 2012.
Coincidentally, July 30 was the birth date of Ford founder Henry Ford. He was born 150 years ago, in 1863.