Oct 25, 2013

Fleet #energy #sustainability: Ford Fires Up Natural Gas Powered Pickups for $1 per gallon

Back in 2011, Jon Coleman was doing something he does just about every day in his job — talking to customers — when something piqued his interest. As the fleet sustainability and technology manager for Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Coleman constantly tries to stay abreast of the wants and needs of those who run vehicle fleets: police forces, taxicab outfits and delivery companies. So he perked up when a big customer asked about compressed natural gas, or CNG. Specifically, the customer wanted 1,000 new natural gas powered vehicles. "When they say that, we take notice," Coleman says. 

That customer has a lot of company these days. At the end of July, Ford announced that the 2014 Ford F-150 — the longtime best-selling vehicle in America — will be available with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine capable of running on CNG or standard petroleum gas. Coleman expects that initial sales of the CNG-prepped 2014 Ford F-150 — which can also include a separate fuel system that runs on standard gas — will mostly go to fleet customers. But as fueling stations offering CNG multiply across the country, he also expects interest among individual customers to grow too.

"Gas and diesel prices bounce all over the place, but CNG is a flat line, rising right along with inflation," says Coleman. And, he adds, prices have dropped precipitously in recent years due to increased drilling and new technologies. "Fleet customers are interested in that lack of volatility and the low price, which they can lock in through forward contracts," driving down the cost of ownership. At the time of their announcement about the F-150, Ford said CNG was selling for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent and was as low as $1 in some parts of the country, while the national average for unleaded gas was $3.66 per gallon.