Chrysler Group LLC announced on March 6 that it has begun the delivery of 242 new 2013 Ram 2500 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) pickup trucks to the state of Oklahoma, the Company’s largest customer order since production of the unique trucks began in October.
Peter Grady, Vice President of Network Development and Fleet – Chrysler Group LLC, presented the keys to one of the Ram 2500 CNG pickups to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) in Oklahoma City on March 6.
The Ram 2500 CNG is the only OEM-built compressed natural gas-powered pickup truck in North America. Other manufacturers of similar vehicles use manufacturing partners to take gasoline powered trucks from the factory and convert them to CNG or bi-fuel capability in a post production facility.
ODOT will use the Ram CNG pickups primarily as service trucks on the state’s roads and highways.
Oklahoma has been a leader in the development of CNG fueling infrastructure to support government, commercial and consumer CNG vehicles with nearly 100 fueling stations now located along major roads and highways across the state.
Gov. Fallin is leading a bipartisan coalition of 22 states seeking to use more CNG vehicles in their state fleets. CNG-powered trucks offer cost and emissions benefits, using an abundant, domestically-sourced fuel, which reduces America’s dependence on foreign oil.
The Oklahoma commitment to clean fuel technology originated at the inaugural Governor’s Energy Conference in 2011 when the governor announced the CNG project. Since then, Gov. Fallin has been driving the initiative, working with other state officials and governors, meeting with automobile manufacturers, including Chrysler Group, and issued and received bids for more affordable CNG vehicles for use in state fleets.
“Chrysler Group is delighted that we can deliver these unique Ram pickup trucks today to Gov. Fallin, a steadfast champion in the use of compressed natural gas vehicles in state fleets,” Grady said. “Through the governor’s tireless efforts to form a coalition of states, 13 Ram Truck dealers have landed contracts with 19 states to supply their fleets with the new Ram 2500 CNG pickup trucks.”
CNG or bi-fueled vehicles achieve typically the same mileage figures as unleaded regular gasoline – with a retail cost usually more than 50 percent lower than the average price of a gallon of gasoline.
According to a report from CNGNow, prices for CNG in Oklahoma dropped to just under a $1.00 per gallon in January this year, more than $2.00 gallon less expensive than gasoline which makes these trucks even more of a value for the State of Oklahoma.
“Converting the state’s fleet to CNG will save taxpayers millions of dollars in fuel costs,” Gov. Fallin said. “The use of cleaner-burning CNG fuel is good for the environment and promotes Oklahoma-made natural gas which in turn supports the creation of more Oklahoma jobs. Our multi-state bidding process was aimed at encouraging automakers to provide states with more affordable and more functional CNG vehicles. We are very thankful for the team at Chrysler for their help and leadership throughout that process. The state of Oklahoma is excited to add quality CNG trucks to our state fleets from manufacturers like Chrysler.”
The Ram 2500 CNG is actually a bi-fuel vehicle that uses compressed natural gas as its primary fuel source, but automatically switches to gasoline when the CNG tanks are emptied. In use, the Ram CNG transitions from one fuel to the other with little discernible difference in operation or capability.
The Ram 2500 HD CNG pickup is powered by the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and features both compressed gas storage tanks and a choice of 8- or 35-gallon gasoline fuel tanks. Redesigned cylinder heads with specifically designed CNG compatible valves and valve-seat materials allow the engine to burn both fuels. It also gets a second, CNG-specific fuel rail and set of injectors. New spark plugs improve combustion and durability, and a new power train control module allows the HEMI to seamlessly operate on either of the two fuel sources.
The Ram HD CNG uses the 66RFE 6-speed automatic transmission to deliver the full power and torque capability of the Ram HEMI bi-fuel power plant.
“These are heavy-duty trucks and we have highway crews in every county in the state who will put them to work immediately,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley. “I’m grateful that ODOT has the opportunity to work with Governor Fallin and the auto industry to cut costs and improve our operations.”