By on February 7, 2014

2015 Silverado 2500HD Bi-Fuel

In the ongoing battle in Green Valley below Truck Mountain, Chevrolet has unleashed a CNG conversion kit for both 2500 and 3500 variants of the 2015 Silverado HD.

The kit allows the Silverado HD to run either compressed natural gas or gasoline at the flick of a switch, with the 6-liter V8 under the bonnet pumping out 301 horsepower and 333 lb-ft torque on CNG, or 360 horses and 380 lb-ft on gasoline. Range is expected to reach 650 miles through the use of both fuels, while towing capacity remains at 13,000 pounds.

For operators of work-duty Silveradoes, the CNG conversion would save $2,000 annually on fuel costs for a truck that does 26,000 miles using CNG 75 percent of the time, due mainly to the lower per gallon cost of CNG over a gallon of gasoline.

The kit — made for use in single-wheel setups only — is available now on 2500HD double cab and crew cab models, while 2500HD single cab and all 3500HD styles will be available in July.

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27 Comments on “2015 Chevy Silverado HD Goes Green With CNG...”

  • avatar

    Those wheel arches look fracking ridiculous.

    Also, is it a mandate to have the CNG blue sticker? The Civic CNG had that as well.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe it is a requirement. A lot of local governments run CNG around here and all of them have the blue sticker. I don’t believe you can park them in parking garages, either.

    • 0 avatar

      The CNG stickers are required – in the event of a crash it is helpful for the responders to know there’s natural gas and a high pressure tank to contend with. And I agree about the wheel arches – reminds of the stock Dodge Ram 2500 from over a decade ago. The wheel wells and higher stock height of the truck, combined with small stock tires, looked ridiculous!

      • 0 avatar

        FWIW, the problem is not that the wheel arches are tall. If you load it down with a full payload of …bricks or whatever (which, IMO, every heavy-duty pickup should do at least once a month) it squats down to a reasonable level. The problem is that the _front_ wheel arches are tall too, mostly because 95%+ of trucks (at least here in the Midwest) are 4×4. So you load down the back, but unless you’ve got good load levelers, the headlights will now be pointed about 10 degrees above the horizon.
        Older 4×2 HD’s may look a little strange unloaded with their rear ends thrust up in the air, but at least they improved upon being loaded down.

        • 0 avatar

          Add to it, if said truck were loaded down with a tralier or mulch or topfill or bricks and was off-road, the articulation of the suspension becomes compressed.

  • avatar

    Green? Presumably more green in your wallet, but I’d be shocked if CNG is significatnly more efficient. I doubt anyone really bothers about getting truck buyers to want to “look green”.

    Can residential gas outlets supply enough gas to compress into these cars? My parents managed to buy an outdoor grill just before new sales were banned. I was told this was due to infrastructure reasons (but may have been polical market protection for all I knew). If you could just “fill up” by running a compressor overnight this would ideal for low cost driving.

    Between fraking and other sources, the US has amazing amounts of NG. Building cars that use it just makes too much sense.

    • 0 avatar

      CNG, on average, is cheaper and less carbon-intensive to extract.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I’m also wondering whether CNG/LNG, like electricity, is “cheaper” because no motorfuel tax is imposed on its sale. Of course, for long-haul, heavy trucks, the taxes they pay are not limited to motorfuel taxes.

      Because it is cleaner, I believe CNG-powered engines require less maintenance, and longer oil change intervals since there aren’t liquid combustion products contaminating the oil. If you’re a fleet operator, those kinds of savings add up.

      • 0 avatar

        Its part of it, but only maybe 1/3 the savings (taxes, not lube issues). CNG claims the cost is roughly 40% of gasoline at current commercial sites, 50% cheaper with a home compressor, and 30% at some sort of future sites once the gas companies find a way to fix retail prices*. US gas tax “averages” $0.50 a gallon**, so if the conversion is already paid for, paying taxes on CNG won’t make it more expensive.

        *they didn’t say that, but I expect that is how it will work.
        ** presumably simply averaging the states, not by gallon (which would get tilted to California’s nasty taxes).

    • 0 avatar

      Also the energy per carbon atom is higher in methane than in longer hydrocarbons. For every CO2 molecule you release, you’re getting more energy (whether you’re using it or not, I dunno). And AFAIK it’s easier to get complete combustion with smaller hydrocarbons.

    • 0 avatar

      If I’m not mistaken, the thermal efficiency of dedicated CNG motors is superior to gasoline or diesel, but the dual fuel gasoline/nat gas motors aren’t really much different from a typical gasoline-only engine.

      But CNG tanks take up a lot of space, and they need to be replaced periodically (and the consequences of a bad tank can be disastrous.) CNG is well suited to fleet vehicles such as large trucks that are properly maintained, but not for beater passenger cars.

  • avatar

    You could make a case that a natural gas powered vehicle is better for the environment than even a 100% electric car, it depends on what fuel your power plant uses. A large amount of electricity in the US is still made with coal. Natural gas is MUCH cleaner burning and it’s almost 100% supplied domestically.

    The cleanest sources of electricity production are nuclear and natural gas. Solar is a novelty that will never be a meaningful part of the grid. Nuclear is going to be a tough sale after Fukushima, so you either burn natural gas at a power plant or burn it in your car.

    I hope the public embraces CNG vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s no question CNG vehicles are a better deal than electric vehicles powered by coal.

      Chances are that a typical CNG power plant powering an electric car is going to be more efficient than a CNG car engine even after transmission and storage losses are taken into account.

      And then you have places like the Northwest where hydropower is dominant. In those places, electric cars are absolutely the greenest option.

      • 0 avatar

        Some parts of the country also have large amounts of wind power; there is a electricity provider here in North Texas that claims all of it’s power is produced from wind. (Factually not correct; since you can’t pick just wind-generated electrons off of the grid; but the point is that they purchase power from wind sources only.)

        • 0 avatar

          When you say a “large amounts”, your purposely playing fast and loose with the facts.

          Please give an actual number, because you’re talking about something like 1% of the power grid is from wind.

          I mean, there could be a guy that charges his electric car with a hamster wheel, that doesn’t mean it makes up a large part of the grid.

          • 0 avatar

            It is at 4% and steeply increasing (although it will likely stop increasing at 1%/year without money being thrown at it). The first I heard of “buying wind power” was at least 5 years ago, and it wasn’t all that much more (largely because most of my bill went into the wires & grid, not coal). Solar might be <1%, but that seems to have much more available headroom than wind (I want the panel+concentrator Ford showed off, but don't bother putting it on a car).

            I'm sure there is a bit more natural gas being burnt (they were already on the grid for peak use due to speedy availablity), so don't assume it is *quite* all coal, but it is mostly coal.

            I want my nukes! Nuclear electricity makes sense (and easily replaces coal. Wind largely replaces natural gas).

      • 0 avatar

        Buy hydropower is not viable for 90% plus of the grid. You might as well talk about everyone having a windmill in their backyard.

        CNG vehicle technology is affordable and available today and allows people to have the vehicles they want with existing technology.

        Also, a 100% electric vehicle makes a vehicle MUCH heavier because of the battery and accompanying equipment. A Tesla weighs almost 5,000 lbs. Imagine an electric truck? A natural gas powered vehicle does not have to carry that extra weight.

        It’s going to be a while before an affordable truck that can tow is going to be 100% electric. With CNG vehicles, a very close alternative can be had today.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I see this type of vehicle being popular with municipal fleets. They can
    easily amortize the necessary fueling infrastructure.

  • avatar

    Are they keeping the CNG tanks in the “toolbox” in the bed? Kind of a negative if one was planning to install one for, you know, tools. I guess the tanks have to go somewhere and location choices are limited.

    Hard to believe CNG towing capacity is unaffected if there’s a 59HP hit when it’s used.

    • 0 avatar

      These days with engines being so powerful towing capacity is determined by frame, suspension, and brakes, not engine power.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s kind of how it’s always been. The Ford 300 I6 was standard in everything from F-100’s to chassis-cab F-350’s (I think if you got an actual F-350 pickup with a bed, you’d end up with the 360 or later the 351), and it made, what, 170 hp? And how much was the GVWR on an F-350 flatbed compared to an F-100/150? It’s all in the frame, springs, axles, and brakes.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Well, if you check out the tow ratings for the F-250, you will find it higher with the more powerful diesel engine than with the gasoline engine. The same situation applies with GM and Chrysler vehicles. I’m not saying that there may not be other power train changes besides the engine (transmission, rear axle), but the basic vehicle is otherwise unchanged.

        • 0 avatar

          300 6 made like just under 120 in the late 70’s. It stayed around that level until fuel injection.

          it made 145 with fuel injection.

          170 is the old SAE ratings that were total BS and should be ignored IMHO.

  • avatar

    It’s great we’re seeing vehicles like this. I think dual-fuel CNG/gas is our best option for energy independence and clean running.

    CNG cars burn super clean, even without a catalytic converter. We have tons of it domestically. Best yet, It requires only minor modifications to make cars run on it- the tech is ready to go mainstream, unlike electric, and all the infrastructure is there. It might be slightly lesss efficient than an electric car running off a natural gas powerplant, but not much and would be much cheaper and faster to implement.

    They could make cars with small, or relatively low-pressure, CNG tanks good for maybe 50 miles of range to cover most people’s commutes, and you burn gas on a road trip. You could even have a minimalist injection system where the CNG only provides enough juice for cruising at 75 mph and you meter in some gasoline for acceleration and hills. Such a system would probably be easy to retrofit into any fuel injected car. A small compressor and storage tank at home will let you top up overnight, just like an electric car, and that’d probably be the biggest expense.

    This would be the most cost effective way to gain some energy independence and help the environment.

  • avatar

    check this link for the comparison of cng/lng and lpg. I still wonder why the US bypassed LPG and took up cng. New Zealand had a scheme where you had a compressor on your home gas supply to refuel your vehicle. I don’t know if they still do.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The expensive part will be the cylinders. I can’t forsee the government not subsidising this type of vehicle. I suppose the government is rich ;)

    The composite tanks are expensive to construct and will probably require some form of NDT/pressure testing on a regular basis.

    This type of energy isn’t viable economically for the transportation industry. Natural gas is ideally suited for power generation, industrial and domestic use. You can then keep you heating oil for transportation, as heating oil is much denser.

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