Chrysler’s Ram Truck division is joining GM in the CNG game.
The heavy-duty automaker announced today that it will be offering a compressed natural gas version of its Ram pickup truck to fleet buyers starting in July. General Motors also revealed plans this week to sell CNG-powered pickups through its Chevrolet and GMC brands.
Based on the Ram 2500 4X4 Crew Cab, the $48,495 truck is powered by a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine that is modified in-house by Chrysler to run on either gasoline or CNG. Ram says the powertrain is good for a tow rating of 7,650 pounds.
The fuel is stored in a pair of tanks located in the front of the truck’s 8-foot long bed that offer a range of 255 miles between fill-ups, while an 8-gallon gasoline tank provides an extra 112 miles for trips to areas where CNG is not available.
According to Chrysler, there are currently 1,500 CNG filling stations across the U.S. and only half of them are open to the public. Fleet operators that use CNG vehicles typically have their own pumps installed to service their vehicles.
Supporters of CNG use in motor vehicles cite the fuel’s low cost — often less than the equivalent of $2 per gallon gasoline — clean emission and domestic production. Nearly all of the natural gas currently used in the United States comes from North America sources.
Along with Chrysler and General Motors, the only other single-source CNG-capable vehicles currently on sale in the United States are the Honda Civic Natural Gas and the MV-1 wheelchair accessible van from Florida-based startup automaker Vehicle Production Group. Ford offers CNG-prepped versions of several of its commercial vehicles, but they need to be converted by a third-party upfitter.
Compressed natural gas is a popular motor fuel in Italy where Chrysler’s parent company Fiat offers several CNG-capable cars.