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More Commitments for CNG; GM Prices Bifuel Trucks

Snack king Frito-Lay North America said last week it will add 67 compressed natural gas (CNG) tractor-trailers to its fleet vehicle system, which operates in seven U.S. cities, by the middle of July, while recycling/waste hauler Waste Pro USA made a $100 million commitment to natural gas-fueled vehicles and fueling infrastructure.

Separately, General Motors (GM) said its CNG bifuel pickup trucks will carry an $11,000 price above the base sticker price for similar gasoline or diesel fueled trucks, but it said the extended-range vehicles will offer a three-to-five year payback on lower fuel and operating costs compared to gasoline and diesel models.

Frito-Lay operates more than 1,200 tractor-trailers in its national fleet, and it has calculated that it should save the equivalent of $2.50/gallon compared to current diesel prices. When fully deployed the 67 CNG tractor-trailers may reduce diesel fuel consumption by Frito-Lay by up to 900,000 gallons annually. The company is testing 18 trucks with 8.9-liter Cummins Westport engines.

"Within the next six to seven years, 75% of the tractor fleet could be converted to CNG or LNG," spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez told NGI. Eventually the company expects to run the most of its longer-range vehicles on either CNG or LNG. At the same time, the PepsiCo unit plans to add to its plug-in electric vehicle fleet of box trucks, which since 2010 have covered more than a million miles delivering the company's products. "The long-term goals are to reduce fuel consumption by 50% and GHG emissions [by] a similar amount by 2020."

Waste Pro has committed to develop an extensive network of CNG refuse hauling trucks and the fueling stations to support them, working to transform a portion of its fleet from diesel to CNG. As part of that longer term effort, the recycling and disposal company said Clean Energy Fuels Corp. would build and operate a CNG fueling station at Waste Pro's headquarters in Fort Pierce, FL, to support the company's growing fleet. Permits have been obtained, and the facility is scheduled to be in operation by 3Q2012.

GM also said it began taking orders last week for its Chevrolet and GMC bifuel CNG line of 2013 pickup trucks particularly aimed a commercial fleet operators. The CNG bifuels would be available for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 HD extended cab pickup trucks with carrying GM's standard warranties. Both models are expected to be priced above $40,000, based on the 2012 model year pricing, and would be equipped with CNG-capable Vortec 6.0-liter V8 engines that transition between CNG and gasoline fuel systems, GM said.

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