The vehicle sitting in your driveway could be powered by natural gas in the very near future.
That could be very good news for drivers because natural gas is currently over $1 a gallon cheaper than gasoline or diesel fuel. The gas industry trade group NGV America estimates that the average price for a gallon of natural gas in the United States is between $1.50 and $2.00. The average price for a gallon of gasoline on Nov. 11, 2013, was $3.19, and the average price for a gallon of diesel fuel was $3.83 on the same day.
So why aren’t we driving around in natural gas-powered vehicles right now? The main reason is that natural gas has to be stored in a pressurized tank. That takes up a lot more space and weight than a tank for liquid fuels, such as gasoline or diesel fuel. It also limits the amount of gas a vehicle can haul and its range.
Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles Unveiled
Well, now Chrysler has solved that problem with a new kind of tank for natural gas. The new tank expands when it is filled with natural gas and contracts as it is emptied. That takes up less space and gives a Dodge Ram pickup powered by natural gas a 255 mile-range.
Chrysler is so confident in the technology that it will soon start selling a Dodge Ram 2500 heavy duty pickup powered by compact natural gas, or CNG, to the public. The Ram won’t skimp in the power department; it’ll be powered by a 5.7 liter Hemi V-8 engine that can burn either natural gas or gasoline. The new Ram will also have a 35 gallon reserve gas tank in case drivers can’t find a station that sells CNG.
The first generation CNG Ram will have the old-fashioned pressurized tanks, but future models will have the new tank. That will allow the future CNG Rams to have a bigger bed with more storage space.
No other natural gas-powered vehicles have been announced, but the media rumor mill indicates that GM and Ford could soon be planning to bring out natural gas-powered pickups of their own.
Fuel Your Car at Home
Beyond lower costs, there are some other advantages to natural gas that you might not be aware of. The most interesting is that it could be possible to fuel CNG-powered vehicles at home. There are systems that allow you to use the gas your local gas company pumps into your house to fuel a car or a truck. That means you might never have to go to the gas station again.