With domestic natural gas production at an all-time high, and prices at an all-time low, the fuel is an increasingly attractive alternative to gasoline and diesel for retail and fleet customers. All the domestic truck makers have an entry in the market, and GM started production last week of its bi-fuel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models at its Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant. Powered by the Vortec 6000 6.0-liter V-8 engine, the CNG/gasoline 2500 HD models have a combined total range of 650 miles, the highest bi-fuel range of any truck from an original equipment manufacturer, according to GM claims.
The bi-fuel package is a $11,000 option available in most of the bed and cab configurations offered on the Silverado and Sierra 2500 HD, including extended and crew cabs, regular and long-bed, and two- or four-wheel drive. The actual bi-fuel conversion is by tier-one supplier Impco, after which the trucks are delivered either to the dealership or to a third-party upfitter for other modifications. The CNG option may seem expensive, but the Duramax/Allison powertrain adds $8395 to the bottom line, and the national average of a gallon equivalent of CNG is currently about half that of diesel.
The bi-fuel trucks carry the same 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty as other GM trucks. Following Chrysler's announcement that the Ram 2500 CNG will be offered to retail as well as fleet customers, the bi-fuel trucks will likewise be offered to both fleet and retail customers.