Chrysler will build the first U.S. production compressed natural gas-powered pickup truck when it starts deliveries of its Ram 2500 CNG this summer, as the U.S. automaker looks to offer a cheaper refueling cost for its utility vehicles.

Chrysler, which has started taking reservations for the truck, said the model will include an 18.2-gallon-equivalent CNG tank that will provide 255 miles of driving range as well as an eight-gallon gas tank that will provide another 112 miles. Pricing for the Ram 2500 CNG, which uses a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine, starts at $47,500.

The company says it's offering fleet buyers a cheaper refueling alternative because burning CNG is about a third cheaper than regular gas. AAA says regular gas prices, which jumped about 27 percent last year, average about $3.75 a gallon, up about 40 cents since the beginning of the year. Chrysler says there are about 1,500 CNG refueling stations across the U.S. – about half of which are publicly accessible – while the U.S. Department of Energy puts that number closer to 1,000.

CNG proponents have pitched natural gas as a preferable refueling option to gasoline because, as opposed to petroleum-dependent gasoline, most CNG is produced in North America. Meanwhile, Chrysler's Italy-based parent Fiat has built almost a half-million CNG-powered vehicles in Europe during the past five years and has more than an 80 percent CNG market share there.

Earlier this week, General Motors unveiled two bi-fuel CNG- and gas-powered trucks. The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and the 2013 GMC Sierra 2500 HD, which GM showed off at the 2012 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, will be available by the end of the year.

Overall, green-technology research firm Pike Research forecast last year that worldwide annual CNG vehicle sales would jump 68 percent to 3.2 million in 2016 from 1.9 million in 2010. In the U.S., CNG vehicle sales would grow by more than 25 percent a year and would reach almost 33,000 units in 2016.
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Ram to Build North America's Only OEM Compressed Natural Gas-powered Pickup
March 6, 2012 , Indianapolis - Today, Ram Truck announced it will become the only manufacturer in North America to offer a factory-built compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) pickup truck.

The Ram 2500 Heavy Duty CNG pickup is designed for fleet and commercial customers and offers cost and emissions benefits, using an abundant, domestically sourced fuel while reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.

"Commercial customers are extremely important to Ram Truck," said Fred Diaz, Ram Truck President and CEO Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico – Chrysler Group LLC. "Adding a hard-working, fully capable CNG-powered truck to the Ram lineup makes a lot of sense – both economically and environmentally."

"Our commercial fleet customers have been asking us to build a CNG powered Ram," said Peter Grady, Vice President, Network Development and Fleet – Chrysler Group LLC. "These fleets have already developed their own fleet fueling infrastructure for CNG, and are strong proponents of the technology."

Bi-fuel
The Ram HD CNG is powered by the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 and features both compressed gas storage tanks and an 8-gallon gasoline fuel tank. Canadian customers can opt for a 35-gallon gasoline tank.

"Compressed natural gas is a widely accepted fuel in the U.S., Europe and Asia," said Robert E. (Bob) Lee, Vice President and Head of Engine and Electrified Propulsion Engineering -- Chrysler Group LLC. "As a fuel, CNG is readily available, well-suited to run in our 5.7-liter HEMI engine and is clean-burning with a low environmental impact. In fact, CNG demonstrates a reduction of 70 to 90 percent of smog-producing pollutants and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions."

The Ram's 5.7-liter HEMI bi-fuel engine has been modified to run on compressed natural gas as well as gasoline. Redesigned cylinder heads with specifically designed CNG compatible valves and valve-seat materials allow the engine to burn both fuels. It also gets a second, CNG-specific fuel rail and set of injectors. New spark plugs improve combustion and durability, and a new powertrain control module allows the HEMI to seamlessly operate on either of the two fuel sources.

The Ram 2500 CNG system was fully engineered and tested by Chrysler Group and assembled at the company's Heavy Duty truck plant in Saltillo, Mexico.

In use, the system is automatic; eliminating operator switches altogether and utilizes either CNG or gasoline, transitioning from one to the other with little discernible difference in operation or capability.

Although a small amount of gasoline is used during engine startup, the Ram CNG runs exclusively on compressed natural gas. If the CNG tanks are emptied, the vehicle will automatically switch to gasoline.

In addition to a conventional gasoline fuel gauge, a second CNG-specific gauge sits adjacent to it in the instrument cluster.

CNG-only range is estimated to be 255 miles, while the backup supply of gasoline extends the range to 367 total miles.

The Ram 2500 Heavy Duty CNG's two ultra-strong 4.6 cu.-ft. (130-liter) CNG tanks are located in the forward portion of the Ram's 8-foot pickup bed. Both tanks are mounted to the frame and covered by a painted 50 ksi high-strength steel cover. The CNG filler connection is located next to the gasoline fuel neck, accessed through the Ram's fuel filler door.

The CNG tanks provide a gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) of 18.2 gallons.

GGEs are calculated as having the same energy equivalent as one gallon of gasoline. CNG sold at filling stations in the U.S. is priced in dollars per GGE. A gasoline gallon equivalent of CNG is approximately 14.5 liters at 3600 psi.

At current prices, which are generally $1.25 less than the gallon equivalent of gasoline, CNG promises significant cost savings over the life of the truck.

Capability
The Ram 2500 CNG retains its heavy-duty capability: competent towing, payload hauling and outstanding acceleration for highway merging and passing.

Ram 2500 CNG offers 1,580 lbs. of payload, 4-ft.-8-in. usable bed length and 7,650 lbs. of towing capability.

The Ram 2500 is delivered ready-to-tow and standard equipment includes the integrated 4- and 7-pin connectors along with a Class IV hitch receiver. The Ram CNG also comes with a trailer brake controller with customer-programmable electric or electric-over-hydraulic trailer brake options.

Like every Ram 2500 Heavy Duty model, the 2012 Ram CNG's brake system reflects distinctive advantages, with huge, oversize 14-inch rotors and calipers to match. Front GAWR is rated up to 5,200 lbs. - ideal for northern climates requiring snow plow attachments.

Clean Energy
Natural gas is found abundantly in North America and is a common fuel source for large vehicle fleets.

CNG comes primarily from underground sources in the U.S. and Canada. It is plentiful and offers lower tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel fuel. In fact, CNG vehicles emit 20 percent less CO2 than gasoline vehicles – and benefit the environment not only by lowering tailpipe emissions, but also generating fewer greenhouse gasses in fuel production, as well. Also, dedicated NGVs produce, on average, 70 percent less carbon monoxide, 87 percent less non-methane organic gas and 87 percent less NOx than traditional gasoline powered vehicles.

CNG is a mature technology that's available at a lower cost than other alternative fuels. It's further supported by positive consumer attitudes regarding green products and favorable governmental regulations and policy initiatives.

CNG technology is a viable near-term option to lessen transportation system dependence on crude oil.

Fleet Solutions
Fleet operators have a number of fueling choices.

There are approximately 1,500 CNG fueling locations across the U.S., half of which are accessible to the public. CNG producers are working aggressively to bring more on line every day.

"This technology is ready now and offers a viable solution along with number one fleet 'reason to buy' which is lower total cost of ownership," added Grady. "Delivering a factory-built Ram 2500 CNG underscores the importance of commercial and fleet customers to Ram Truck Brand."

In addition, large fleet operations frequently install both quick-fill and slow-fill CNG fueling stations. In addition, the Ram CNG's bi-fuel capability allows it to operate on gasoline indefinitely, until CNG can be added.

Ram executives expect customers for the new Ram 2500 HD CNG to include telecommunications companies, public utilities, natural gas production firms and government agencies.

Expanded CNG vehicle offerings and wider adoption of CNG as a primary fuel are expected to serve as a catalyst for expanded CNG product offerings and greater investment in CNG fueling infrastructure.

5-year/100,000-mile Warranty
A 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty covers the HEMI V-8 and transmission, and adds internal engine components specific to CNG: the upgraded valves, the valve seats, fuel injectors and rail and the specially designed spark plugs - all part of the factory installed manufacturing and production processes.

Covering virtually every other aspect of the Ram 2500 CNG is a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. Specific to the CNG engineering, this covers all non-engine components, including the tanks, storage compartment and fuel filler equipment.

Fiat and CNG
Fiat is by far the dominant CNG manufacturer in Europe with a greater than 80 percent share of the market. Fiat sales of compressed natural gas vehicles in Europe have exceeded 480,000 passenger cars and light duty vehicles (1997-2011).

Moreover, since 1995, Iveco (Fiat Industrial's truck and commercial vehicles division) has focused heavily on natural gas propulsion, and is now European leader in research and sale of natural gas vehicles, with 11,000 units now in use by private companies and public authorities.

Italy has more widely adopted CNG vehicles than the U.S. and offers 800 public CNG stations.

(For further information: www.fiatspa.com and www.fiatindustrial.com.)

Facts about Natural Gas Vehicles

* There are about 150,000 Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) on U.S. roads and more than 13 million worldwide
* The U.S. ranks 14th in the world for NGVs, with less than 1 percent
* The International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles estimates that there will be more than 50 million natural gas vehicles worldwide within the next 10 years, or about 9 percent of the world transportation fleets
* While the United States imports more than 60 percent of the oil it uses, 98 percent of the natural gas used in the U.S. was produced in North America
* NGVs can be refueled from existing natural gas lines. This makes home refueling stations that utilize such lines possible

Availability
The company is currently taking fleet orders and expects to deliver the first vehicles in July 2012.

The Ram 2500 CNG is available exclusively as a Crew Cab 4x4 model with 169-inch wheelbase, in either an ST or SLT trim level.

Pricing starts at $47,500, including $995 destination charge.

About BusinessLink™
BusinessLink is a free program that connects business owners with a network of Chrysler Group dealers that are specially equipped to work with small businesses. Nationwide, Chrysler Group's 489 BusinessLink dealers offer the convenience of one-stop sales and service essential to help commercial/small businesses stay on the road to profitability. Business owners may access this free membership program with proof of business ownership at any BusinessLink dealer. Benefits include no dues or fees, specialized in-dealership commercial/small business sales and service personnel, extended service and repair hours, priority next-available-bay service, free shuttle service, 24/7 towing service, free loaners for select vehicles, expertise in commercial financing options and unique business variable incentives.

Find a local BusinessLink dealer at (877) 2THELINK or on the web at www.chryslerbusinesslink.com.

About "On The Job"
Chrysler Group's "On The Job' vehicle program provides commercial/small business owners a variety of incentives and discounts to assist them in purchasing, servicing and customizing vehicles to specifically address their unique professional needs. Custom upfit allowances, service contracts, Mopar® certificates, and cash allowances are just a few of the stackable incentives that business owners can utilize at any of Chrysler Group's 2,317 dealerships. Business owners may take advantage of these incentives in addition to existing BusinessLink or retail specials. Most Chrysler Group vehicles qualify for On The Job program advantages when the vehicle is purchased for business use.

For On The Job program information, call (877) ONTHEJOB or click on www.dodge.com/en/commercial/programs_discounts/.

About Ram Truck Brand
The Ram Truck brand continues to establish its own identity and clearly define its customer since its launch as the newest Chrysler Group LLC vehicle brand. Creating a stand-alone brand for Ram trucks has allowed the brand to concentrate on how core customers use their trucks and what new features they'd like to see. Whether focusing on a family that uses its half-ton truck day in and day out, a hard-working Ram Heavy Duty owner or a business that depends on its commercial vehicles every day, Ram has the truck market covered.

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