By on October 17, 2013

cngimpala

Looking to take advantage of the natural gas boom currently occurring in America, Chevrolet will market a bi-fuel version of its Impala sedan starting next year.

With the ability to run on either gasoline or CNG, the Impala will be offered primarily to fleet customers starting in the summer of 2014. The CNG Impala will be offered as a 2015 model, with Chevrolet only expecting to move 750 to 1,000 units. The car will have a second tank for CNG in the trunk and should offer a combined range of 500 miles. GM CEO Dan Akerson was vague about the price premium for the car, suggesting it could be at least “a couple thousand” dollars. Other vehicles, like the Honda Civic and Ford F-150, carry premiums ranging from $3,000 to $7,500 for the CNG option.

Other auto makers such as Chrysler and Volkswagen have expressed interest in CNG. Chrysler offers a CNG powered Ram 2500 pickup, but lack of demand, as well as infrastructure, have been cited as potential stumbling blocks.

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37 Comments on “Chevrolet To Offer CNG-Powered Impala...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    The infrastructure problem is the same as with electric cars — the best option, IMHO, is to do like Honda and sell a home refueling option where applicable. While every house has electricity, but not all have natural gas, I think the acceptance and applicability of CNG would have it easily surpass pure electrics for the next 10-20 years while Tesla and others build out their network.

    Sign me up. Although yesterday I read the premium would be more like $11,000, which would kill it. Honda’s home refueling station, IIRC, was a few thousand dollars, as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Is that for people with natural gas that is delivered or NG that runs underground?
      Or both?

    • 0 avatar
      danwat1234

      It will only take a few years for Tesla’s Supercharger network to be throughout the USA and power outlets are everywhere for electric cars (although slow charging unless Level 3). Extended range EVs like the Volt or BMW i3 with the range extender can be used as primary vehicles right now.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Instead of subsidising resources on wasteful EV programs and wind generation and subsidising CNG powered vehicles the money would have been better spent bringing that natural gas to more Americans so they can lower energy bills at home and for industry.

    Investing in infrastructure will have longer term economic benefits than subsidising unviable programs and industries.

    Keep liquid energy for transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Right on. Going back to Bush, then continued by Obama, there has been this massive lip service (and subsidized black holes) on “end game” strategies like solar and EVs with a near-total disregard for the interim steps — the viable technologies that will get us over the immediate hurdles. I always joked with Bush that it was a way to pander to the environmentalists while touting technologies that wouldn’t really compete with his oil buddies for several decades. With Obama it got even worse, and there was nothing nefarious about it — pure ignorance and posturing, it seems. Solyndra, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The new CAFE standards, created by the current administration, include mileage credits for CNG cars.

        If it wasn’t for the new CAFE rules, it’s unlikely that this and most other CNG vehicles would be produced at all.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Pch101
          Adopt and use UNECE regulations like we do in Australia. Get rid of your dumbass tariffs and regulations that stifle progress. Remember UNECE regs are flexible so it can facilitate trade.

          You can have more and create a better export market.

          But that means you will have to become open minded.

          The UAW and Big 3 don’t mind those tariffs, CAFE and barriers. Don’t just blame Obama and Bush. UAW, Manufacturers lobby government to stifle trade.

          This insular US transportation industry protection model started to really kick off in the 1960s. Chicken Tax? DoT 1967?

          The US situation has been decades in the making. Remember Charles Darwin and the Galapagos Islands. Evolution my friend :)

          Oh, I’m not going to debate you on this, since you disregard historical evidence or any evidence that doesn’t suit your paradigms. A Zealot you are.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            One of us, one of us!!!!

            Seriously UNECE is worse then the crap we have now, why make something bad, worse.

            How about we just require a general rule such as requiring cats, and end it at that, none of that emissions BS UNECE or CAFE does.

            Maybe your jealous of our cheap fullsize trucks, all you go on about is fullsize this fullsize that, and we all know how ridiculously overpriced everything in Australia is.

            Your a broken record on America but completely ignore your own countries problems, your obsession with something that doesn’t affect you, is downright scary.
            Americans in the know don’t want it, yet another countries public wants us to be like them?
            Your backwards-
            Study the French Revolution

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Al, I know that you have a standard cut-and-paste post that you use for everything.

            Unfortunately, you miss the fact that fuel economy/ greenhouse emissions standards vary by country. The EU, China, Japan, South Korea, etc. all have their own standards. Your usual UNECE babble has nothing to do with this topic.

            Even Australia has standards, but they are currently voluntary (although your luxury car tax does account for fuel economy.) Perhaps there will be a day when you catch up to other countries in mandating such things.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Why are you so mad about the Chicken tax? It doesn’t even apply against Australia. And hasn’t since 2005. The cost of building vehicles in Australia is simply too high to justify export to America (except for rare, high priced, stop gap cars like the SS). I can see people in Turkey or Thailand being mad about the Chicken tax.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @racer-esq.
            I’m not angry. Do you know what anger is?

            What’s more upsetting is when an Amercian Expceptionalist like Pch101 or the UAW guys refuse to believe that the US car market is heavily shaped by regulation, more so than any other mature market.

            They try and defend the undefendable in my eyes.

            Pch101 has the view ‘how can what we do in America ever be wrong’. Well I disagree with his view on where America is at the moment. I do travel quite extensively globally. I do see quite alot.

            It’s also about the debate, he’s wrong and I can shut down his tea party bull$hit from the ultra right.

            I do the same with the left wing bullshit from our ‘commrades’ that represent the UAW and other unions like Mikey, DiM, DocOlds, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I find it funny that Al constantly refers to UNECE without understanding what it is, or what it does or doesn’t do.

            It’s one thing to have a difference of opinion. It’s quite another to be oblivious of facts.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Whoever buys a natural gas powered vehicle, if there are no subsidies, is paying the full-unvarnished cost of the “externalities” of this choice.

    The rest of us are intellectually dishonest pikers when we buy oil and coal- and nuclear-powered cars(EVs), since the cost of those fuels takes nowhere near the full amount of the actual costs of those energy choices. I.E. the cost of keeping the sea lanes open for business in the Persian Gulf, the awesome damage to health and the environment caused by coal-fired plants, the massive incomparable direct subsidies of nuclear power etc etc.

    Any “Manhattan Project” type project to wean us immediately off imported energy from the deranged, uncivilized part of the globe would feature the installation of the infrastructure for the widespread use of natural gas for transportation.

    Unfortunately, natural gas vehicles do not naturally lend to their owners an occassional eruption of squeals and spasms of self-righteous preening like the Toyota “Pious.”

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      They aren’t paying for any of the cost of irresponsible fracking, methane leakage or C02 generation from burning natural gas. So they are not paying for any negative externalities. It’s only that no internalized costs are being subsidized. They are just paying for the cost of the vehicle, like someone that buys a gas powered car.

      With the low cost of CNG and the tax evasion possible I’m surprised this isn’t a lot more common.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      While I agree with your sentiment, I think you’re overestimating the output of the ninth-century oil producers. Just look at the amount of oil coming out of the NAFTA countries alone…then include South America…

      We’ll be fine even if we just keep drilling here. Expanding natural gas would make us even better, of course.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “imported energy from the deranged, uncivilized part of the globe”

      Canada?

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        “imported energy from the deranged, uncivilized part of the globe”

        Canada?

        Well hell, we invaded Canukistan once already in 1811 in an unsuccessful attempt to forcibly install civilization. It “worked,” only in the sense that now any dispute involving the Great Lakes invokes a flurry of strongly-worded written rebukes.

        Sigh. Give War a Chance.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I would be very interested in this. GM has sold dual-fuel solutions in other markets (Holden Commodore bi-fuel on CNG and gas) so I’m not worried about the technology.

    I would already be driving a CNG Civic if:

    a) It had a trunk left after the conversion (OK, so it has a Solstice top up grade trunk)

    b) I could get it in something other than poverty spec trim

    If this could be had in LTZ trim, and I still had a serviceable trunk, and the premium for the dual-fuel was cost recoverable in 3 to 5 years (including the home fueling station) based on 12K to 14K miles annual of driving – I may have found my next car.

    I know fuel costs would be 1/4 to 1/3 of gasoline with almost no compromise in HP or torque. At $3.25 to $4.25 a gallon that adds up.

    The cost of a post-sale conversion is too prohibitive for a consumer interest, at $10K to $13K (before the fueling station). With this I could use CNG for Puget Sound driving and could swap to petrol when going cross country and a CNG station wasn’t easily located, or convenient.

    A lot of ifs I know, but if met, there would be one of these in my driveway come 2016 (my next buy cycle)

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I know T. Boone Pickens has a self-interest in promoting natural gas as an automotive fuel, but I think he’s on to something when he argues the nation as a whole would benefit with the switch of our trucking industry to natural gas. An 18 wheeler can easily save 5 figures a year by running on natural gas. The government subsidy needed would be very modest, simply fronting the money for installing natural gas fueling equipment at truck stops with the property owner paying back over time.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I have posted a number of times I would rather the government hand out $7.5K tax credits to do CNG conversions than to buy a S/Leaf/Volt/Fisker/etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      That’s a sensible suggestion. Alt fuels like these are best deployed in government and commercial fleet vehicles, for which the infrastructure needs are more manageable. CNG for cars doesn’t make much sense (but for CAFE), but there would be tangible benefits for trucks.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Due to a freak convergence of geology and luck, my family homeplace and eventual retirement ranch is situated over about eight oil and gas sands that have been exploited beginning about 1895 and there has been drilling or other development activity every 20-40 years since. Some oil, more gas. Most recent well is in the Marcellus shale, drilled in 2006. I don’t worry much about running out since one of the more productive gas wells is 40 years old. The 110-year old wells produce gas rich in gasoline vapor–it can literally be distilled from the gas. The leases, also conveniently 110 years old, allow for domestic use.

    So a bi-fuel vehicle would make a lot of sense. I have only recently started looking into this, and one concern I have is that the raw natural gas also has butane, propane, and any number of other hydrocarbon gases that are stripped out of commercially distributed natural gas. It ain’t just CH4. Curious if the fuel delivery system of these new CNG bi-fuel vehicles takes into account differing qualities (i.e., BTU values) of various commercially available gases, or if they’re close enough to each other that the system wouldn’t be flexible enough for casinghead gas.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Well, you CAN run a motor vehicle using CNG. One must appreciate that it will always be a niche product for a number of reasons. My addition to this thread is to point out that natural gas and oil compete in many different markets, and CNG as motor fuel is actually one where natural gas is at a considerable disadvantage.

    Fracking has recently broken the price of natural gas in the US by half. Fracking is now in the process of breaking oil prices, many say it will be by 30%. I think it might turn out to be even a little more than that.

    CNG as a motor fuel has to be considerably cheaper than gasoline/diesel to make it economically viable even as a niche player. Six months ago the pump price ratio in the USA was about 2 to one. Now it is down to about 3 to 2, it is trending down, and you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, imho.

    At the peak of the 1980′s oil crisis New Zealand (which had, at the time, one recently discovered big gas field, but no domestic oil production) had 110,000 CNG powered motor vehicles – about 10% of their fleet. Now they have 200. Not 200,000, 200.

    A few countries without much oil, but some natural gas, have emphasized CNG powered motor vehicles. Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, and to a lesser extent China. Iran has also done so in order to make more oil available for export. The total global fleet of CNG powered motor vehicles is about 15 million light vehicles and 2 million trucks, mostly in the aforementioned countries.

    Pakistan is rethinking CNG for motor vehicles because they need their natural gas for industry. Many truck stops in Texas and points west have installed CNG fueling stations, but they are hesitating incurring the expense of activating them until they see how things play out.

    Personally, I like the idea of CNG as a motor fuel. I also like Boone Pickens, although I know him only slightly, he has always seemed like a nice man. The odds on CNG as a motor fuel turning out to being a winner? Don’t bet the farm on it.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I think in NZ, like Australia some other countries we used LPG. There is a significant difference between CNG and LPG. Don’t confuse the two.

      The problem with the storage of compressed natural gas is the pressures involved to make it viable for endurance and its still not viable economically. The necessary accumulators for storage are extremely expensive and will always be so.

      Liquid petroleum gas or propane can be stored in liquid form. This is the gas that is better suited for the motor vehicle industry. Even LPG required large containment vessel, but CNG required very large, expensive containment vessels.

      CNG will have to be subsidised on a continuing basis to make it cost effective.

      Since it requires subsidisation it shouldn’t even be considered as an economic form of energy for vehicles.

      Natural gas should be used as a greener replacement energy for power generation, domestic and industrial applications.

      Like I’ve stated massive amounts of money are wasted on EVs, hybrids, solar, wind, tidal, etc form of energy production and supply.

      America can’t afford more subsidised industry. Someone is paying for these pie in the sky dreams and wastes of money.

      We have the same type of mentality here in Australia.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbob457

        I would hardly confuse ethane, butane and propane with methane. The first three are almost everywhere and most of the time more valuable and useful as petrochemical feedstocks than as motor fuel. Some people burn propane as cooking fuel (or even for space heating) in specialized situations. CNG is almost 100% methane, made from natural gas processed to strip out almost all ethane, butane and propane plus SO2 and other nasty impurities.

        Methane can substitute for oil as a refinery fuel, for space heating, as a fuel for generating electricity, as a heat source fuel in the petrochemical and a few other industries, plus in a some other stationary applications. Substituting for oil in the transportation sector (as in CNG) isn’t a very big deal.

        Also, you might want to audit a first year economics course sometime and learn what an ‘externality’ is. No point in staying ignorant.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @jimbob457
          “externality”

          You had better learn the most basic of economics! High School stuff, do you know about compound interest? :-)

          It’s called profit and loss. Europe, US, Japan and many other countries have adopted carbon crap and other wasteful ‘externality’ programs and project. Guess what? They are broke.

          So your externality projects will reduce pollution by destroying an economy.

          Removing those wasteful windmills, EVs, Hybrids, Solar panels, etc and using the government subsidised money for infrastructure is called “investment”. Investment is another word for gamble.

          As an economist I suppose you realise there are only 2 ways to make money. Creating something that doesn’t exist (infrastructure) and investment (pie in the sky gambles similar to the examples I mentioned the above paragraph).

          Now creating a gas pipeline infrastructure will reduce greenhouse gases, create investment into future and large gas projects. Reduce the cost of energy to a wider audience in the US. Which means more people will be able to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint.

          So, you have creation and investment in one. And its a sure fire profit making venture. No negatives.

          The US would be greener and better if a more comprehensive CNG gas infrastructure was in place for all to use.

          No, I think you are a Wall St Greenie. The worst type, I bet you supported Solydra and all of the other loss making ventures.

          Look at all of these fantastic economies that are encouraging externality programs, carbon trading. In Australia we are dumping it, because it is wasteful.

          Creating regulation to create a new market is inefficient as the money wasted in that market can be of more benefit spent in a wiser fashion.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            Here in Texas, we have an old saying that applies to guys like you: “Buy ‘em books and buy ‘em books, and all they do is eat the covers.”

          • 0 avatar
            Conslaw

            “Other wasteful externality programs?” Are you suggesting that fossil fuels don’t produce external costs? Are you suggesting that the people who burn the most fossil fuels should be able to dump whatever external costs there are on the people who burn little just because they can?

            True free market economists would try to internalize the costs to reach an efficient production level. I’m struggling to find a civil name for the folks who either pretend the external costs don’t exist or don’t give a sh*t.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            Exactly. You wanna talk about ‘externalities’? How about nukes?

            And I LIKE nukes. You just have to be realistic as possible about the risks. The San Onofre plant (and a few others) make me nervous.

            What happened at Fukiyama was just another wake up call. What could possibly go wrong? Earthquake. Tsunami. Maybe some idiot workman forgets and leaves a lit candle in some gloomy passageway? I dunno? Maybe my ex-wife will go on a rampage?

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @jimbob457 & Conslaw
            I have never mentioned that. What I stated is the current method of resolving those problems could be better dealt with.

            Governments are pandering to lobby groups ie, auto industry, energy, greenies, etc to create policy for votes. These are inefficient and costly.

            Industries come and industries go. Let the older industries die and new ones develop. How many candlestick makers are their in your town?

            As for the ‘less developed’ economies that are adopting these ‘greener’ measures. Well look at it from an economic perspective instead of a subjective point of view.

            These economies don’t have the polluting infrastructure we have in place. They are more or less starting with a clean sheet. So they naturally will have a much more efficient and less polluting economy, ie, use less energy and greener energy.

            In 100 years these ‘lesser developed’ economies will be confronted with the problems the mainly OECD economies are confronted with now.

            But hopefully they don’t make the same mistakes we are making by giving in the interest groups to pretend we are doing something positive about pollutants.

            Infrastructure is needed to change the way we live. Taxes and carbon credits etc are only keeping unviable industry alive.

            If the US was serious about the levels of pollutants it would be chasing fuel taxes to reduce consumption. This would mean smaller vehicles. But can Detroit manage this?

            The energy industry needs infrastructure, can the US still have cheap energy if the energy infrastructure in the US is updated and modernised?

            It cost money. The money wasted on these bull$hit schemes only takes money away from where it’s truly required.

            Nuclear energy is great and probably does less damage to the environment than any other form of energy.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            @big Al
            Welcome to the real world. Grow up.

            Your kindergarten verities are mostly true, but they are only a starting place. Real players know so much more. In my world, you can’t even get invited to play unless you get way beyond your level.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @jimbob457
            Well, I hope you do your best at the ‘meetings and briefs’ for you special people, I’m egalitarian and in engineering. I do get my hands dirty.

            You had better let everyone know that most OECD economies are nearly on the skids.

            Let them realise the great US middle class is dwindling.

            Like I stated you need to build the correct infrastructure. I will stand by my opinion. EVs, windmills, hybrids, solar, etc are wasteful. Use the money elsewhere or not at all, pay down debt or borrow less.

            They aren’t viable yet, but one day yes.

            Running a country is not much different to running a business or home for that matter. You have internal and external influences to manage. Creating non existent ‘influences’ will only blow your household or business budget.

            Like false or unnecessary/subsidised industries.

            The US situation isn’t sustainable or for that matter most OECD economies.

            Look more carefully at where the money goes. When you ‘ain’t’ got money to buy the kids candy they can go without, or allowing them to play sport.

            When you’re broke, you’re broke. Change your ways restructure your economy and ways, I don’t see any other choice. The US (OECD) can’t continue on the path it has lead for the last century or so.

  • avatar
    TurboMark

    Honda hasn’t manufactured a CNG Civic since pretty much last February. I think production for the year is in the low 300s and won’t begin production again until this February. The reason for this is simple, almost all of the CNG Civic sales went to the government. With the “buy america” program it was determined that cng civic did not have enough domestic source content to qualify. This is likely the arena that the Imp is going after. Honda only sold the refill station in Oklahoma and California (I think it’s those two states), in most other states domestic sources of natural gas have too much moisture content, possibly leading to engine damage.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Other issues. CNG Civic’s trunk is otherwise occupied by the CNG tank, you can only get it in poverty spec trim with almost no options on the buy sheet, and has a sticker price close to an ILX.

      DoA

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Pch101
    Again, Pch101 I’ll have to educate you on how the big wide world works outside of the backwater existence you lead.

    Seriously, have a read of the attached document. You will learn and you will see that the UNECE regulations leaves plenty of scope for individual nations to exercise considerable scope on how to manage UNECE regs.

    The options that Australia looked at are wide ranging from continuing on using our Australian Design Regs, which costs a considerable amount to maintain to adopting a complete ‘takeover’ of UNECE design regulations.

    This working document was completed by our Federal Finance Dept. It covers all bases on the pros and cons of adopting UNECE regs. As you can assess by the branch of government it is looking at the costs to the nation of adopting UNECE regs.

    Do read it. Like I stated the US should use this system, its flexible.

    Read and learn Pch, maybe one day you can have a discussion with me at my level.

    http://ris.finance.gov.au/files/2012/03/03-Harmonisation-of-the-ADRs-RIS.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Thanks for posting that link. Once again, you’ve proven that you don’t understand most of what you read.

      UNECE regulates the design of auto components. It doesn’t deal with average vehicle fuel economy or greenhouse gas emissions within individual countries. They’re separate matters.

      “maybe one day you can have a discussion with me at my level.”

      If I had to stoop that low, I’d be lying on my stomach as I typed this.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Pch101
        WFT?

        That’s what I’ve been telling you, what you have just stated!

        HTF can you now turn an argument around!

        I’ve been telling you that the UNECE regs have little to do with tariffs and barriers. It how the countries shape their market through barriers and tariffs.

        You are like DenverMike to debate.

        You can’t form an argument, get trounced then state what I’ve been telling you is the basis for your argument.

        Pch101, you really take the cake.

        You can’t accept to be wrong.


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