A Ford Transit Connect sits near Grand Central Terminal in New York City.… (Associated Press )
Ford Motor Co. is boosting the number of trucks and vans its offers that run on compressed natural gas and propane as sales rise and demand grows for cleaner fuel fleets.
“Since 2009, we’ve seen the number of Built Ford Tough commercial vehicles sold with factory-prepped engines for CNG/LPG [propane] upfit increase by more than 350%,” said Jon Coleman, Ford Fleet Sustainability and Technology manager.
“To expand power of choice for our commercial customers, we are offering CNG/LPG prepped engines in additional vehicle nameplates -- from the Transit Connect compact van up to medium-duty F-650 models.”
Since 2010, according to Mike Levine, truck communications manager for Ford, the company has seen its sales of compressed natural gas-fueled trucks and vans rise to 11,623 last year from 3,277 in 2010. This year, Ford expects sales to exceed 13,000.
By expanding its propane-ready offerings, Ford would also be taking advantage of another fact.
While the national infrastructure for refueling or recharging vehicles that run on electricity, hydrogen, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas or bio-fuels remains spotty at best, propane fueling stations are broadly available throughout the U.S.
One reason for the increased demand for cleaner trucks has been the high price of both gasoline and diesel in the U.S., but that hasn't been the sole factor.
The other push for alternative fuel fleets has come from the nation's seaports, local and state governments and businesses anxious to show neighbors, customers and shareholders that they are going green and reducing emissions.
Ford says it will offer the all-new Ford Transit range of full-size vans, wagons, cutaway and chassis cab models powered by a 3.7-liter V-6 equipped with a CNG/LPG prep kit.
The company already offers its Transit Connect van, wagon and taxi lineup; Ford Super Duty pickups; E-Series vans, wagons, medium-duty F-450, F-550 and F-650 variants with factory-prepped engines for CNG/LPG conversion.
Ford said its next-generation Transit Connect will add yet another CNG-ready engine when it goes on sale later this year.
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