Truck owners looking for a cheaper alternative to diesel can have it for a $9,500 premium on Chevy and GMC heavy-duty pickups. GM figures you can save about $2,000 a year using CNG twice as much as gasoline, which means it’ll take just five years (or about 100,000 CNG-powered miles) to recoup the cost. Worth it?
That depends entirely on where you live. Some areas of the country are inundated with publicly-accessible CNG filling stations; other places don’t have a CNG station within hundreds of miles. Of course you’ll have to sacrifice some power if you choose to run the cheaper fuel. On gasoline, the 6.0 liter V8 is good for 360 horsepower and 380 ft-lbs of torque, but running CNG it churns out just 301 horsepower and 333 ft-lbs of torque.
Having begun production back in 2012, GM is sticking with its long-term cost analysis for its CNG vehicles. To get the kinds of savings GM claims, you’ll have to drive an average of 27,000 miles a year, more than twice the national average, and 19,500 of those miles must be on CNG fuel alone. For major fleet operators, these numbers are definitely attainable. For the average guy looking to save a few bucks though, this truck would require over a decade of driving to make any sort of financial sense. Much of the cost is tied up in the expensive fuel tanks, and while companies have made efforts to produce better storage options, these are still years away from making an impact.
For those wanting a CNG van instead of a pickup, the CNG system will cost a bit more, starting at $10,825 for a three-tank system and $12,090 for the four-tank system. So far, no word on the rumored Chevy Impala CNG either, though Ford is said to be working on a small fleet of CNG vehicles as well.
Nobody ever said going green would be cheap, and unless you own a fleet of these trucks, you’ll have a long time to wait before seeing any real savings.