Ford Motor Co. has begun production of 2014 model F-150 pickup trucks capable of running on compressed natural gas (CNG) with a "gaseous-fuel prep option" on 3.7-liter V-6 engines in the F-150 model.

Ford said that by summer it will offer eight models capable of running on natural gas or propane (LPG). It also claims it is on track to sell more than 15,000 of the vehicles this year.

Third-party firms that are designated as "Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifiers" will provide a variety of CNG options for customers to "find the most cost-effective solution to their diverse operating needs," Ford said, adding that nearly 20 states now offer, or soon will offer, tax incentives or rebates for CNG-converted vehicles.

The latest versions of the F-150 are the only ones available from any manufacturer with CNG/LPG capabilities, the company said.

Available with factory-installed gaseous-fuel prep packages that include hardened valves, valve seats and pistons and rings to allow operation on either natural gas or gasoline, the bifuel F-150 is capable of achieving more than 750 miles on combined tanks of gasoline and CNG, Ford said. The overall range depends on the size of the fuel tanks.

The F-150s have a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified rating of 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined.

Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability/technology manager, said businesses and fleet customers have been asking the company to offer a F-150 capable of running on CNG, given today's low natural gas prices and the cleaner emissions.

The CNG/LPG engine prep from the factory adds $315 to the cost of the vehicle, and depending on which qualified modifier is used and the fuel tanks, lines and fuel injectors added, upfits can cost from $6,000 to $9,500, Coleman said.

Fleet operators can cut the added cost through incentives now, or soon to be, effective in states including Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida (see Daily GPI,Aug. 15; June 28, 2012). Earlier this month, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it was offering up to $7.6 million to help build alternative fuel fueling stations.

Ford is promoting eight NGV-capable models that it has developed since returning to the production of NGVs in 2009. The models include:

  • Transit Connect vans and wagons;
  • Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab;
  • E-Series vans, wagons, cutaways and stripped chassis;
  • F-Series Super Duty pickups and F-350 chassis cabs;
  • F-Series Super Duty chassis cab (F-450, F-550);
  • F-650 medium-duty trucks;
  • F53 and F59 stripped chassis; and
  • 2014 F-150 light-duty pickups.

Ford said it has developed a qualification program that is rigorous for third-party alternative fuel vehicle modifiers, or upfitters. It is designed to keep the quality of the NGV-capable vehicles high, the automaker said.

Ford maintains the engine and powertrain limited warranties (five years or 60,000 miles); modifiers are responsible for warranties on their system components.