Ford's CNG-capable F-150 pickup truck

The possibility of $1-a-gallon fuel would make a lot of US governmental entities sit up and take notice. The state of Oklahoma and the city of Dallas are making that happen. Those two entities are buying up a bunch of Ford F-150 pickups retrofitted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), all in the name of cost savings and emissions reduction.

Oklahoma is buying 256 of the F-150s, while Dallas is buying another 65. The trucks, which cost between $6,000 and $9,500 to retrofit (on top of the original price), can run on either CNG or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). And while that's a substantial hit, conversion costs are typically paid back in three years thanks to lower refueling costs.

CNG prices are as low as $1.07 a gallon in parts of Oklahoma.

How much lower? The national average price for CNG is about a buck and a half less than the $3.67 average per-gallon cost of gasoline. And CNG prices are as low as $1.07 a gallon in parts of Oklahoma, where CNG is plentiful. CNG also cuts tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by about 20 percent compared with gasoline, while the retrofitted trucks can go as far as 450 miles from their CNG tanks in addition to the 300-mile range from their conventional tanks. That's useful in a bit state like Texas.

This week, the US Energy Department trumpeted a $5.9-billion loan program that Ford accessed to upgrade its factories for production of its EcoBoost engines, noting that Ford has sold a half-million F-150 trucks with EcoBoost engines. Those trucks have collectively cut fuel use by almost 57 million gallons of gas during the past three-plus years. Check out Ford's press release on the F-150 purchases below and the Energy Department's statement about its loan program here.
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OKLAHOMA, DALLAS ORDER 300-PLUS CNG-CAPABLE FORD F-150 PICKUPS AS DEMAND GROWS FOR ALTERNATIVE FUEL OPTION

The state of Oklahoma and its agencies to buy 256 Ford F-150 trucks prepped to run on compressed natural gas; Dallas orders 65 for its fleet

2014 F-150 available with gaseous-fuel prep option on 3.7-liter V6 engine; can run on CNG or liquefied petroleum gas (also called propane autogas)

By summer, Ford will offer eight vehicles that can run on clean-burning, affordable CNG; the company is on track to sell more than 15,000 such vehicles in 2014
The state of Oklahoma, its agencies and the city of Dallas have ordered a total of 321 Ford F-150 pickups that can run on compressed natural gas.

Since 2010, Ford CNG-prepped truck sales have increased more than 250 percent, said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sales manager. Cumulative sales are expected to exceed 50,000 trucks by the end of the year, and Ford expects demand for CNG-prepped vehicles to continue growing as more fleet customers recognize the economic and environmental benefits of this clean-burning fuel.

CNG-powered trucks lower costs and offer emissions benefits, and the alternative fuel is domestically produced, Coleman explained. Operating costs can be as low as one third that of conventional vehicles. Typically, the fuel savings cover the cost of conversion within three years.

"For fleet customers in Oklahoma, Texas and other states, a CNG F-150 really makes sense," Coleman said. "The fuel is more affordable and widely available, and it reduces greenhouse gases and pollutants that cause smog."

The 2014 F-150 is available with a gaseous-fuel prep option for the 3.7-liter V6 that can run on CNG or liquefied petroleum gas. CNG/LPG engine prep from the factory costs $315. The customer then chooses a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines and unique fuel injectors. Upfits run approximately $6,000 to $9,500, depending on tank capacity.

For fleet managers, CNG conversions can provide stability against fluctuating fuel prices, lower vehicle operating costs and reduce pollutants. CNG sells for a national average $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and is as low as $1 in parts of the country. By comparison, the national average for unleaded regular gas is $3.67 per gallon.

Customers can also accelerate the payback period by taking advantage of a growing number of incentives issued by states such as Oklahoma.

CNG expansion
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is leading a coalition of 22 states seeking to use more CNG vehicles in their fleets. CNG is abundant in this country and reduces America's dependence on foreign oil. CNG also lessens the environmental impact of greenhouse gas by 20 percent and reduces smog-producing pollutants up to 90 percent.

Fallin announced the CNG project at her inaugural Governor's Energy Conference in 2011. Since then, she has worked with other Oklahoma officials and governors from other states, met with Ford and other automobile manufacturers, and received bids to add more CNG vehicles to the state's fleets.

"I am excited about Oklahoma's partnership with Ford Motor Company as we work to support energy efficiency, cost savings and the use of clean-burning American-made energy," Fallin said. "Ultimately, converting our state fleets to CNG will save millions in taxpayer dollars."

CNG prices in Oklahoma vary from $1.07 to $2.49 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. The average statewide price for a gallon of regular gas is $3.43. Fuel bills could be reduced as much as 67 percent with CNG vehicles, Coleman said.

Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have expressed interest in Ford CNG-capable vehicles, Coleman said.

The specially equipped bi-fuel F-150 model purchased by Oklahoma features two storage tanks – the regular factory gasoline reservoir and a supplementary CNG tank. Combined, this gives the light-duty truck a range of up to 750 miles, depending on the size of the tanks. The most common configuration allows fleet operators to go 450 miles on CNG alone and another 300 miles on regular gas.

Most CNG options
By this summer, Ford will offer eight commercial vehicles with a gaseous-prep option, more than any other full-line manufacturer:

2015 Transit Connect van and wagon
2015 Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab
2014 E-Series van, wagon, cutaway and stripped chassis
2015 F-Series Super Duty pickup
2015 F-Series Super Duty chassis cab
2015 F-650 medium-duty truck
2015 F53 and F59 stripped chassis
2014 F-150 light-duty pickup
Power of Choice
CNG/LPG prepped vehicles are part of Ford's commitment to offering a wide range of alternative fuel options to customers to help meet their mileage and driving needs, including EcoBoost, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, Flex Fuel and B20 biodiesel.