By on August 2, 2013

ford-f-150-cng

Starting with the 2014 model year, for the first time Ford will be offering F-150 buyers the option of running on compressed natural gas or liquid propane gas in addition to gasoline. Automotive News reports that interested can spec a F-150 with the 3.7 liter V6 engine, and then receive a factory-installed CNG/LPG prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings. The actual conversions would be done by six CNG/LPG conversion companies that have been certified by Ford as “qualified vehicle modifiers”. As long as the conversion is done by one of those six firms, Ford will honor all factory warranties on the engine. Depending on the size of the fuel tank that’s installed, the cost of the conversions will be between $8,000 and $11,000 a vehicle, but running on gas can be significantly cheaper than running on gasoline or diesel, and the cost of the conversion can be more than paid back over the life of the vehicle.

A gallon of CNG is currently averaging $2.06 in the U.S. Ford projects that it will sell 25% more CNG/LPG prepared vehicles this year than last, more than 15,000 trucks. Since the F-150 pickup is Ford’s biggest selling vehicle in general, 2014 will likely see a significant increase as well. Ford now offers nearly all of its commercial vehicles with the CNG/LPG prep package, including the Transit Connect, the upcoming Transit full size vans, E-series ‘Econoline’ vans, F-series Super Duty trucks & chassis cabs in both F-350 and F-550 sizes, the F-650 medium duty truck and now the F-150.

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45 Comments on “Ford F-150 Now Available With CNG/LPG Prep Package, Most Ford Trucks Now Cooking With Gas...”


  • avatar
    Spartan

    This is outstanding for truck fleets considering how much fuel they burn. Here in Korea, I see quite a few cars fitted to run CNG/LPG, especially taxis. The savings over the life of the vehicle if you’re racking up the miles is worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      In Korea, LPG vehicles are sold cheaper than the same model in gasoline or diesel, so the saving are immediate.

      Unfortunately, the average buyer does not technically qualify for the subsidized LPG price. Fleet buyers, taxis, disabled, veterans on disability, and other groups get it, but for the most part, the average consumer is stuck with gasoline or diesel.

  • avatar
    noreaster

    Didn’t Dodge announce something similar a while back? How does this compare re cost and warranty?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      According to the article, the warranty is preserved.

      Keeping warranty coverage is the actual news here, because aftermarket conversions have been around since before I was born. You get cheap fuel in exchange for reduced cargo area and/or reduced range.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So TTAC, the same website that regularly tells us that diesel and hybrid systems don’t pay back over the life of the vehicle, now says that a $8000 to $10000 CNG or LPG prep package will pay back over the life of the vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      It’s about usage. Fleet will rack up far more miles than a regular consumer would on the average which pays for the conversion. Just like drivability issues with CNG over gasoline, it’s not a relevant stat for fleet either.

      • 0 avatar

        A friend of mine has a contracting business that also does snow plowing for a number of school boards in the winter. All of the white workman’s trucks are running Propane for this reason. If you put 300-500,000 km on a truck it’s worth it, especially with gas at $4.94 a gallon here.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    “A gallon of CNG is currently averaging $2.06 in the U.S.”
    is thsi adjsuted for energy content? and at wahat pressure? A gallon can be 2 pounds of BG, or 20 pounds and the energy content is based on mass, not volume.

    the conversion seems expensive. In Germany people pay $2500 to convert a totally normal gasoline car for gas. I realize truck parts are larger and more expensive, but that sounds like a ripoff.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      In Australia we have dual fuel LPG/Petrol for car utes and some cars. Cheaper here than above, for that type of conversion.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      CNG is sold in DGE (diesel gallon equivalent) or GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent) in the US, so it’s already adjusted for energy content. We actually don’t look at mass at all when estimating CNG energy content, it’s a function of volume, pressure, and temperature.

      Does $2500 include the CNG tanks? The bulk of CNG incrementals is in the tankage, the conversion itself is pretty cheap. You’re easily looking at $3-400 per GGE of capacity. These are nearly indestructible carbon fiber pressure vessels, and the market is a near monopoly with one manufacturer. 3M is entering the market now, which should shift things a bit.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I remember some people who had Ford Contours that were equipped with dual fuel capability. The system worked fine, but the range was rather limited – maybe half that of gas operation. The cars were employer-owned and they had to be “trained” on how to fill the tank. Still, for fleet operators this makes a lot of sense. Most vehicles get returned to the same place and fueling infrastructure can be on-site. The range limitation can be lessened by the truck’s much larger size which allows for a bigger tank. I am troubled by that high conversion cost. I think the authorized companies are making several thousand as a minimum on each conversion. However, choice is good and for the right operator this makes sense.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Ford has been offering the same CNG/LPG prep package on the Transit Connect for some time. It was only a $300ish option, too.

    I didn’t follow it long enough to see if they had the certified conversion installers that wouldn’t void your warranty, though.

  • avatar
    Johannes Dutch

    Just give Impco (a US company) a call and ask them what it costs to have an LPG-system installed as an aftermarket package.

    All daily used US V8 (gasoline) pick-up trucks here have an LPG-system on board. It starts on gas and then the LPG system takes over. Or you can switch between gas and LPG manually. Fuel mileage is about the same, no loss of power whatsoever. A full LPG system is also possible, often used in older hobby vehicles with a big V8. “Full” meaning that the whole original gasoline system will be removed.

    LPG was once very popular here. Until direct diesel injection in the early nineties and common rail diesel injection in the late nineties, which gave diesel cars both great fuel efficiency AND good performance.
    That was basically the end for LPG in bread-and-butter daily drivers. But LPG still is, by far, the cheapest fuel per liter/gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      LPG is not the same as natural gas, and LPG tanks do not require the ability to maintain the kind of pressures that are required for CNG. LPG is a by-product of refining crude oil, so its price is a function of the price of crude oil. Natural gas is produced independently, and with the recent breakthroughs in “fracking,” the price of natural gas has been very much de-linked to the price of crude. On a BTU-equivalent basis, at least in North America, natural gas is much cheaper.

      • 0 avatar
        Johannes Dutch

        I know they’re not the same. We’ve had LPG for decades, I think the peak of popularity was in the eighties.
        Yet still available at pretty much every gas station. (That is, in my country)

        Current users: mostly owners of vehicles with big V8 gasoline engines, with carburetors or electronic injection.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Sort of what happened in Australia. The increasing use of diesel has killed the LPG conversions from the factory or aftermarket. CNG is used for Buses but it not so “user friendly” for private use.LNG is the next big thing for long haul HDT Trucks here, takeup has been slow but it is increasing.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    This doesn’t make sense, I worked for a company that sold bi-fuel kits. I had a bi-fuel Ford Fairmont. It wasn’t hard to get certified by Ford or GM so the conversion wouldn’t void any warranties. The kit ran about a 1000.00. I don’t know where this 8-12K suddenly came from

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    If I’m not mistaken, there are Federal and in some cases State subsidies available for going green with LPG.

    Our US-built cars were being made with optional factory-installed LPG systems, and buyers (in NY for example) could qualify for up to $10,000 in tax credits, effectively reducing the cost of the alternative choice.

    And because they were Ford-sourced engines, warranty coverage was the same for gasoline and LPG fueled vehicles.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I drove a Samsung SM5 (thing big Renault Altima) in South Korea in 2009 which ran on LPG. It was the slowest feeling car with the little LPG engine and CVT transmission. Both engine and transmission were outmatched for a car that big and heavy. It was a rental, so I floored it all day long. It would lose speed at 55mph going up an incline, pedal to the floor.

    http://zzap.com.ua/images/news/177678.jpg Looked like this.

    • 0 avatar

      There are conversions and there are conversions. A good conversion really doesn’t affect the car’s performance all that much, an el cheapo conversation does. Here in Brazil the gov stimulated conversions for a while and all the taxis got it. Invariably they got the cheap conversion. As a result, on any incline, they’d flip the switch to run on alcohol or gasoline to get up the hill.

      Fiat for example sells a so called Tetra Fuel car. Tetra cause it can run on pure gas, Brazilian gas, ethanol and LPG. I don’t see too many complaints from owners but it comes out of the factory that way.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Brazilian gas?
    Is that an ethanol/gasoline mixture?

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what I call it yes. In Brazil people say gasoline but they don’t realize there’s no such thing on sale here. Brazilian gasoline contains, by law, anywhere from 18 to 25 (or 27) percent ethanol with a tolerance of 2 percent. That means when you fill up with gasoline, there could be anywhere from a 16 to almost 30 percent of ethanol. That explains why when I review a car for the site, even the smallest ones get comparatively bad mileage.

      So, all cars produced in Brazil are bi-fuels, which run on Brazilian gasoline and E100. The entire Renault line is tri-fuel (real gasoline, Brazilian gasoline and E100). And the Fiat Siena tetra-fuel which besides the two gasolines and ethanol, also can handle (from the factory) LPG. That makes a difference in border towns as our neighbors sell pure gas cheaper than Brazilian prices. If you go to Argentina to fill up in a Brazilian car (except if you have a Renault or the mentioned Fiat), you better add some ethanol when you get back to avoid problems.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        That would also mean that your mileage reports would not be of much use, even in Brazil because you can’t be certain of the energy content of the particular batch of fuel that you used to test the car, right?

        An interesting article for those of us in the U.S. would be your countrymen’s experience with using gasoline that has such a high alcohol content. There is a big argument here about whether many cars would be damaged by increasing the allowable ethanol content in “standard” gasoline above 10%.

        • 0 avatar

          “That would also mean that your mileage reports would not be of much use, even in Brazil because you can’t be certain of the energy content of the particular batch of fuel that you used to test the car, right?”

          That’s true. Though officially it doesn’t make much difference as officials tell of the difference so you mentally adapt. Roughly-speaking, at harvest time (twice a year), when the market is gloated with sugar, they raise the ethanol content. In between harvests they lower the content. They also adjust to demand in that, when the demand for sugar is high, sugar cane growers (and the gov) prefer to export.

          All of this year and last, the alcohol cotent had hovered around 20%. Now that international (china) demand has slackened they have raised the content up to the top levels.

          This year, in my car, I have not really seen much difference. I expected a hit but it really didn’t come as we are in winter and I’m using the AC much less. So that offset the higher ethanol content.

          If I’m not mistaken our ethanol is different than yours. IIRC ours takes some water (or is the opposite?). The only negative I have experienced was back in the 90s. I had a 1 yr old Fiat Uno that was built to the max standard of 25% ethanol content. About 3 months after they raised the standard to 27% (which meant the gas had a 29% level of ethanol), I had to change the exhaust that rotted out. Could have been a coincidence.

          As to the controversy, some exists but most are satisfied that nothing major happens. Some mechanics I know say that running the current bi-fuel engines just on ethanol leads to many more cases of the need for a premature valve adjustment. Others say that engines that run just on ethanol are cleaner in the long run as sludge “never” happens under those conditions. I can’t say, but I don’t feel too much difference.

          In my region of Brazil nobody uses ethanol as it’s not price competitive (I have not filled up with ethanol in more than 4 yrs). Just in São Paulo (tax breaks, big producers, political) it’s advantageous nowadays to run on ethanol.

          Cars are built to withstand these conditions. Brazilian cars don’t seem to suffer much. Imported car owners sometimes complain of problems. I think the makers have the technology and know-how to avoid major problems.

  • avatar

    Running cars on CNG makes a lot of sense, as the US has gas reserves in abundance and it’s clean. The problem is infrastructure, which takes years, if not decades, to put in place is all geared towards wets / liquids (diesel and gasoline). Go ahead and try to find a CNG dispenser – it’s not easy. Thus, the only takers will be fleets. That in turn means that vehicles will not be designed for CNG and will instead have to be conversions. If a new design was built around CNG specifically, namely properly integrating a fuel tank, the trade off in terms of cargo capacity could be better managed, as would the cost of the CNG tank.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      The infrastructure is there, the US has 1000′s and 1000′s of miles of NG pipelines, all you would need to do is set up compressors at the stations, the real problem with all of this is it takes money away from the oil companies (who own the crude, the refineries, and the finished product) and shifts it to the utilities who control the NG lines, would imagine that more than anything is the largest roadblock.

      • 0 avatar
        FAHRVERGNUGEN

        T Boone Pickens and Clean Energy Fuels builds such installations, primarily for fleet operators but they also allow private access to a growing number of LPG users.

        http://www.cleanenergyfuels.com/

      • 0 avatar
        hf_auto

        NG infrastructure growth is fascinating and not at all what you would expect. For the US:
        - Big oil is producing the NG. BP, Shell, etc are all extracting NG. NG is still putting money in their pockets, the reason it’s putting less money in their pockets is that fracking has made a huge capacity of NG available that drove down the price. Roughly speaking, 80% of gas/diesel price is crude and 20% is overhead. NG is the mirror with ~70% overhead and 30% raw gas.
        - The utilities are legally prevented from making any money on the natural gas you use. You pay your utility, but the money passes on to the distributor (i.e. BP in my region). Utilities are paid by the government for building infrastructure only. The other role they play is to negotiate NG prices on your behalf with the distributors. You can, if you want, try to negotiate directly with the distributor and bypass your utility completely.
        - The largest roadblock is actually a giant chicken & egg game. Regulations prevent utilities from building ANY infrastructure until they have a contract. At the same time, users are holding back until infrastructure is there. The players are maritime base load, rail, trucking, automotive, and static (factories, hospitals, etc.). Maritime and rail will be big players as they have fixed routes/usage, and HUGE volumes that quickly break even on the infrastructure cost. That allows them to share the infrastructure with truck + automotive. Outside of automotive, rail/maritime/truck are quickly approaching critical mass.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      The gas station around the corner from me sells CNG – $2.65 per gge as compared to ~$4.50 for regular. A lot of taxis use CNG, so their 4 CNG pumps are pretty busy.

      With a $10,000 conversion cost, the break even comes at… 5400 gallons – assuming no incentives. For these trucks, that’s probably around 85,000 miles.

      Not sure I would go for that if the truck was for personal use, but a business probably would find that to be reasonable. They really need to work on getting the conversion costs down.

      I do know that there are some tax breaks you can get for the conversion. If that knocks $3000 off the $10k cost, your break even comes closer to 55,000 miles – definitely more reasonable.

      I’d like to see the cost of the conversion at around $4000 without any tax breaks or incentives. That should be the tipping point for conversions for personal use.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      Friend of mine drives a CNG Civic in Culver City. She says there is a fuel station localy. Maybe the City Bus depot? I should ask her again. She ditched her Prius because the carpool stickers were no good any more, but the CNG ones are fine and she did not have to go to the expense of an electric. She has a wicked commute.

  • avatar
    rnc

    My understanding, is with very little modifications, you can run a diesel engine on a 10/90 mix (10% diesel/90% CNG vs. 100% LNG), are those conversions available after market? Especially considering the cost of ULSD and using 90% CNG would probably require a great deal less and/or less complex emmissions equipment.

    Would really love for Ford to come out with a 4.0 liter V8, using thier dual injection method (direct gas, port ethanol to cool the cyl. between firings), along with TT, allows for the HP and emmissions of thier 6.2 gas engine with the torque and MPG of thier large deisel, would imagine that if people were to forget to add the ethanol, then would revert to lower compression operation (or ford could develop a system to seperate the small amounts of ethanol required from the fuel since its already there, and it worked using regular gas)

    • 0 avatar
      Johannes Dutch

      You can run a diesel engine on all sorts of bio-diesel, after the specific necessary modifications of course.

      I don’t mean 1st gen bio-fuel (you must be completely nuts to feed an engine with human or animal food) but 2nd generation and beyond.

      Waste materials for example, like animal fats and oils from the local slaughterhouse. Or the big McDonald’s trucks which run on the used cooking oil and grease coming from their own restaurants.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      You’re describing a Westport HPDI system (CNG and LNG are effectively the same thing, the LNG is evaporated into CNG for combustion). HPDI has pros and cons, ultimately the market is shying away from it. Right now HPDI only makes sense for really huge bores (i.e. 15+ liter engines) where flame propagation in the cylinder becomes a limitation of spark ignition.

      HPDI: Diesel is effectively used as the spark plug for the NG, you can’t detonate the NG with compression alone. Positives: More power, better MPG. Negatives: Phenomenally complex, unreliable system. You need a ram system to get the NG up to thousands of PSI for direct injection. Because you’re still burning diesel, all emissions equipment has to stay on board and you now have the pleasure of having 3 “fuels” (NG+Diesel+DEF) to keep track of. These things are always broken and expensive to maintain.

      Though you lose ~20% power and efficiency, converting the engine to spark is preferable for simplicity and reliability. Now you only have NG on board, you eliminate your emissions completely, and the pressure of the NG system is all you need to feed fuel into the engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yes standard diesel engines can be converted to diesel piloted CNG operation. The engine will idle on diesel only and then as the throttle is depressed CNG will be injected into the intake. The diesel is then injected, usually in a small amount, to start the combustion. Some of the conversions the driver can adjust the mix of the two so if for example the CNG tank is running low it can revert to 100% diesel operation.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    The Feds should give massive CAFE credits for car companies that make natural gas vehicles “new” from the factory. That would get the ball rolling.

    Wasn’t that the main reason for introducing CAFE, to wean us off our dependency of foreign oil? Since about 99% of natural gas is domestically produced, seems a no-brainer to me.

    A Prius uses FAR more foreign oil than a natural gas powered F-150. A Prius also has about 90% MORE tail pipe emissions.

    But for some reason, greenies aren’t embracing it. It’s all about the symbolism.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’m really surprised that it took them this long to start offering this package on the F150. They had GPP options on the 4.6 for years that also kept the warranty intact when the conversion was complete by an authorized supplier. That is the reason you see so many CNG Crown Vic taxis and occasionally police cars in CA and other areas.

  • avatar
    carve

    I wish the conversion was more affordable. What I’d love to see is a relatively low-pressure household CNG compressor, coupled with a a removable tank that holds 1-4 gge. You’d charge the tank at home and could do 90% of your daily driving on CNG, much like a plug-in-hybrid, and remove the tank when you want to do a roadtrip or need more space.

  • avatar

    CNG burns pretty readily if anything happens to the container. I don’t know if it’s any worse than gasoline chemically/physically speaking. I heard that gasoline’s flash point is actually at about room temperature, if mixed with the air just right. The problem seems to be that the contents under pressure spray all over. Here’s a couple of videos from an accident 2 days ago, where you can see explosions of CNG (especially in the 2nd video):

    1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVoI3hB4IiM
    2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlXsxi20ymc

    At least I think it’s CNG. Could be LPG.

  • avatar
    GoesLikeStink

    So what would be the effect if you got this option and still ran petrol? would the engine last any longer or take any more abuse?

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Your CNG fleet vehicle needs to get its payout pretty damn quick before energy markets adjust. When you look at the big picture, running a light motor vehicle with an internal combustion engine on compressed methane offers a pretty skinny economic window. It is inherently expensive and marginal, at best.
    1. there is no place to refuel except at home base every night
    2. compressing methane is difficult; it gets you distressingly close to absolute zero.

    Right now, in the USA, crude oil is selling for about $15 USD per mmbtu. Methane sells for around $5 USD per mmbtu. This 3 to 1 price ratio has not existed since the 1930′s when Texas methane was a waste product with no market except to make carbon black.

    The cause of all this is ‘fracking’, a technological revolution that drove US methane prices from close to $15 USD per mmbtu (where they remain, temporarily, in the rest of the world) down to $5 USD. ‘Fracking’ also works for oil as well which is putting further downward pressure on oil prices.

    Once energy markets finish their adjustment, the most likely outcome is that world oil prices (meaning gasoline prices also) will drop quite a bit, and US methane prices will rise. You can’t count on the current 3 to 1 spread to last very long. Imo, OPEC will act within a year.

    The economic prospects of an LNG conversion are a bit harder to figure since the demand for ethane, butane, propane, et. al. in the USA depends on the Gulf Coast petrochemical industry. Still, higher US natural gas prices and lower world oil prices would certainly squeeze the savings from any such conversion.

  • avatar
    Sooke

    Don’t the tanks have to be replaced every ten years?

    That would make a ten year old vehicle worth only its scrap value – it wouldn’t be worth replacing the tanks.


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