General Motors and Chrysler have plans to launch natural gas-powered pickup trucks. The sale will commence in April in the US and Canada. The trucks will have the option to run both on gasoline and compressed natural gas, seamlessly transitioning between the two fuels.
GM is offering a three-year, 36000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and a five-year, and 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and vehicle emissions warranty. Chrysler is planning for an alternative fuel-based Ram truck to be built at its Saltillo, Mexico-based plant that will travel 255 miles on CNG before automatically switching to an 8-gallon gas tank.
Rising gasoline prices have triggered demand for CNG-powered vehicles or alternative fuel vehicles. The initiative by automakers to use alternative fuel is also gaining the U.S. government’s support.
Compressed natural gas, or CNG, is natural gas under pressure which remains clear, odorless, and non-corrosive. Although vehicles can use natural gas as either a liquid or a gas, most vehicles use the gaseous form compressed to pressures above 3,100 pounds per square inch.
Most natural gas comes from three types of wells: natural gas-and-condensate wells, oil wells, and coal bed methane wells. In 2003,Californiahad over 1,200 natural gas-and-condensate wells in operation. Well-extracted natural gas requires a cleanup process before it can be used in vehicles or residences.
In smaller fueling locations and on vehicles, CNG is stored in thick-walled steel, aluminum, or composite tanks built to last more than 20 years. Natural gas is produced both worldwide and domestically at relatively low costs and is cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel fuel.
Natural gas vehicles show an average reduction in ozone-forming emissions of 80 percent compared to gasoline vehicles. CNG vehicles have been introduced in a wide variety of commercial applications, from light-duty trucks and sedans like taxi cabs, to medium-duty trucks like UPS delivery vans and postal vehicles, to heavy-duty vehicles like transit buses, street sweepers and school buses. InCalifornia, transit agency buses are some of the most visible CNG vehicles.