PRESSURED INTO CNG?
By Bruce W. Smith, Editor
I’m a one-pickup owner who doesn’t drive more than 200 miles a week. It pains me to no end when I have to fill up, so I shudder to think what it costs some of you guys who drive 80 to 100 miles a day.
My basically stock 5.3L GMC Sierra 4×4 is supposed to be one of the more fuel-friendly trucks on the road, with an EPA rating 15/21.
In reality, I see around 13.5mpg in town and on a good day might see 16mpg cruising down the Interstate. My truck has a toolbox, winch, cat-back exhaust, throttle-body spacer, a soft tonneau cover and aftermarket wheels/tires of stock height/size.
But the less-than-optimal fuel economy and the financial tap on my wallet each week makes me consider some alternatives, as I’m sure many of you are doing.
Seeing the new CNG-powered, bi-fuel pickups Ram, GM, Ford, Venchurs and others are now offering makes me think about that possibility.
But as my nephew in Oregon pointed out, where do you fill up? Its not like there’s a CNG nozzle at every Buddy’s Market or Randy’s Gas-N-Go. Heck, many consumers are hard-pressed to find a CNG filling site within 100 miles of where they live.
As one of the leading CNG pickup providers I talked with said, “The discussion of CNG infrastructure is a common topic in the energy and fleet world because of the catch-22 associated with it; consumers don’t want to buy a CNG vehicle until the infrastructure is in place, but investors don’t want to build CNG stations until there are enough CNG vehicles on the road to justify the investment.”
Bigger fleets, utility companies and DOTs can probably justify having a dedicated CNG station on-site and paying $11,000-$15,000 for the CNG bi-fuel option in each of their pickups.
But for smaller contractors, and general consumers like me, that’s not happening. At least not for a while.
Maybe when T. Boone Pickens gets all the truck stops across the country to put in CNG filling stations I’ll reconsider. Until then, I’ll continue to wear the paint off that 87-octane pump handle around the corner from my office and gripe about the price of fuel as the gallons chug in.