I’ve used CNG (compressed natural gas) on my diesel F250 for several years. It was a supplement to the diesel, increased power and dramatically lowered fuel cost per mile. Unfortunately you can’t buy a new truck diesel/CNG. The US has an abundance of natural gas, it lowers emissions and cost less than gas or diesel. CNG is over 33 percent cheaper than gasoline in Colorado now and cheaper yet in Oklahoma and Utah. How would you like to buy gas for $2.32 a gallon. That’s what I paid last week for CNG.
But there is a down side, on a new truck the CNG conversion added to a gas truck can cost from $6,000 to $9,500 depending on the size of the tank. And that tank can take up to a 1/3 of your truck bed space. CNG has 130 octane, which would seem like more power compared to 87 octane on regular gas. But BTU (energy) is less than diesel or gasoline. That means less power and acceleration on the same size engine. On the new Ford F150 I’m driving with the 3.7L V-6, 0-60 MPH time was almost 2 seconds slower on the V-6 using CNG verses gas.
CNG may pay off the upstart cost sooner than a diesel if you are using your truck as a daily driver for light loads because of the cheaper fuel than gas with diesel costing more that gas. The mental hurdle CNG has to overcome is would you pay $9,500 extra for a CNG engine or $8,000 more for a diesel engine and all that power?
Ford introduced the F150 for 2014 with a CNG option, betting more companies and some consumers will buy a truck that burns American fuel and could be the future of having the US oil independent. Besides making T. Boone Pickens happy, more short haul truck fleets are converting to LNG (liquid natural gas) especially at ports like in California.
The cleaner burning CNG is 90 percent methane. You know methane if drive by a diary or feedlot or go to a chili cookoff. WM (Waste Management) harvests methane from garbage dumps. If you look on top, you’ll see the round tanks on some of WM’s garbage trucks.
CNG is lighter than air, if it leaks it goes up making it safer than propane as it goes down and puddles on the ground. I was surprised when I checked the F150 for miles per gallon, basically the two fuels got the same MPG. The CNG tank holds 23.5 GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent) add that to the 36 gallon gas tank and the F150 can go over 700 miles without filling up. That would make the F150 an ideal courier or parts runner or non stop transportation from Colorado to Las Vegas.
The 2014 Ford F150 with the 3.7L V-6 has 302 horse power and 278 ft. pounds of torque. Towing capacity is 6100 pounds with payload coming in at 1,510 pounds. Those are respectable numbers and the 3.7L is a quick engine that will surprise you. This truck is a XLT SuperCab 4-by-4 with a 6.5 ft bed. The CNG, pump and regulator is hidden in a crossover tool box in the truck bed. Don’t think of it as a tool box, it’ 95 percent fuel box.
Now Ford is offering CNG across their truck lines and vans. In F250 and F350, CNG conversion is offered on the 6.2 L V-8 gas engine. Do your math and see if CNG pays off the way you use your truck. ❖
Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over one million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr. Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen websites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his website, www.MrTruck.net.