Consider this: a gallon of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is currently priced about 62 percent less than a gallon gasoline. So if a vehicle powered by CNG is driven 26,000 miles a year, the fuel savings can add up to be over $2,000 a year based on 75 percent CNG usage and comparable efficiency to gasoline. With that in mind, Chevrolet is expanding its CNG Bi-Fuel option to all 2015 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD configurations with single rear wheels.
Carrying the CNG is a separate tank enables the Bi-Fuel Silverado HD models to have a total range of up to 650 miles — thereby requiring less stops to fill up. That separate CNG fuel tank enables the driver to switch between fuels at the flip of a switch. And when the CNG tank is depleted, the system automatically switches to gasoline.
The CNG-capable Silverado HDs utilize a modified version of GM’s 6.0-liter V8 engine (LC8) with special hardened valves and valve seats that enable it to run on CNG or gasoline. The powerplant is rated at 360 horsepower (268 kW) and 380 pound-feet of torque (515 Nm) on gasoline, and 301 horsepower (225 kW) and 333 pound-feet of torque (452 Nm) on CNG. Equipped with a 4.10 axle ratio, the maximum conventional trailering rating is 13,000 pounds on gas or CNG.
GM warrants and validates the fuel systems of its bi-fuel trucks, with The General’s five-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty covering CNG fuel systems. In addition, all of the major components associated with the CNG system also feature GM service part numbers that will be available throughout the dealer network. This is noteworthy, since a GM (tier-one) supplier installs the CNG fuel tank and complementing fuel system upgrades at a non-GM location after the vehicle has been manufactured (at either Fort Wayne, Indiana or Flint, Michigan). However, Chevrolet dealers deliver the trucks as they would with any optional content.
And though the Bi-Fuel trucks will carry a premium over their single-fuel (gasoline-only) counterparts, customers are usually able to recoup the higher initial investment within a few years’ time, with the lower CNG fuel cost enabling a significant reduction in daily operating costs.
The CNG-equipped Silverado 2500HD double cab and crew cab models are on sale now, while the 2500HD regular cab and all 3500HD models will go on sale in July. It’s worth mentioning that, in addition to CNG being cleaner-burning that conventional gasoline or diesel, most of the natural gas used in the U.S. today comes from domestic or other North American sources. And while GM has so far only announced the expanded CNG availability for the Silverado, we expect to see them in 2015 GMC Sierra HDs as well.