Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

GM Debuts CNG Vans at Green Fleet Conference

December 2010, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

General Motors showcased the industry's only fully integrated compressed natural gas (CNG) cargo vans to the public for the first time at the 2010 Green Fleet Conference Oct. 18-19 in San Diego. The Green Fleet Conference is produced by Bobit Business Media.

The automaker displayed the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana CNG vans, as well as several fuel-efficient vehicles in its lineup, to the conference's record-breaking attendance of 450 fleet professionals and industry suppliers. GM executives and representatives were on site to give attendees a walk-around of the van and discuss its key features.

"Our compressed natural gas cargo vans will make it easier for fleet owners to meet their business objectives and make their transportation more sustainable," said Mary Beth Stanek, GM's director of federal environmental and energy regulatory policy, and a conference keynote speaker. "Chevrolet and GMC are the only brands to offer a one-source CNG option on vans for fleet customers. What's more, these vans will meet all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission certification requirements."

GM Offers Two CNG Systems

By offering a one-source van CNG option, GM eliminates the vehicle conversion process for its CNG customers. The option is immediately available for ordering on Express and Savana 2500 and 3500 cargo vans.
The six-speed automatic vans come with the fully integrated and warranted dedicated gaseous fuel system in place. GM's Vortec 6.0L V-8 engine receives factory-installed hardened exhaust valves and intake and exhaust valve seats.

The vans are rated at 8,600-lbs. GVW (2500) and 9,600-lbs. GVW (3500). They achieve an estimated 286 hp at 4,600 rpm and 322 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm.

Two systems are available for ordering. A three-tank system (available in early 2011) provides a range of up to 250 miles and allows for complete use of cargo area, with the three tanks in under-floor locations. A four-tank system provides a range of up to 350 miles and adds a single tank to the cargo area.

The vans attain fuel economy of 11 mpg city, adjusted to gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE), and 16 mpg highway. Fuel tank capacity ranges from 15.8 to 23 GGE.

CNG Systems Reduce Emissions

The CNG system is emissions-certified in all 50 states. The auto manufacturer estimates a 15-20 percent improvement in CO2 emissions over gasoline.

Pricing for the CNG option totals $15,910, which includes the dedicated CNG system, natural gas-capable engine, HD trailering equipment, and required spare tire and jack deletion. The total cost of either a 2011 Chevrolet Express or 2011 GMC Savana Cargo model, which starts at $25,980, would be $41,890 with the CNG option.

The vans are covered by GM's three-year, 36,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty and five-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.
GM has produced more than 16,000 CNG vehicles in four product lines, according to the company.



"Natural gas is an abundant and clean alternative fuel," Stanek said. "Based on today's CNG fuel rates and anticipated payback period, fleet investment in CNG can be quite affordable." 

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