For a hot second there, compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane seemed to be the solution to America’s energy woes, especially for commercial fleet owners. While the CNG/propane option took a hiatus with the debut of the all-new 2015 F-150, Ford is bringing it back for 2016.
Buyers will have to pony up an additional $315 to Ford for adding the gaseous prep option to their F-150, allowing one of four Ford-approved installers to convert it to propane or natural gas. These conversions typically run from $7,500 to $9,500, and the option will only be offered on the F-150’s thirstiest engine, 5.0 V8. Yup, the two EcoBoost engines are still stuck sucking down gasoline.
With a gallon-equivalent of CNG costing about $2.11 compared to $2.62 a gallon for 87 octane fuel, fleet operators could see savings over the long-term…in this case, the extremely long term, as the 50-cent per gallon advantage of CNG is lessened by the lower fuel economy and the ever-fluctuating price of gasoline. Just a few months ago, parts of the country were paying as little as $1.99 for a gallon of gas. Even with the new, lighter aluminum body of the F-150, you’re talking about years worth of driving to see any sorts of price savings.
Still, that hasn’t deterred buyers wanting to get off of petrol and onto American-made CNG or propane; Ford sold over 16,000 pre-prepped trucks last year, the fifth-straight year of record sales. Even though that’s just a small fraction of annual F-150 sales, it represents a shifting mindset within America, where concerns about energy security range from environmental to patriotic. The F-150 is the most American vehicle you can buy, and powering it with fuel sourced directly from the USA is pretty damny ‘Murican if you ask me.