Ford was expected to announce Monday plans to offer the 2016 F-150 full-size pickup with a package that prepares it to be powered by propane or compressed natural gas, an option that appeals to fleet buyers.
The announcement was set to be made in Dallas at the Alternative Clean Transportation Expo.
The $315 factory-installed package would allow an F-150 with a 5-liter V-8 to run on propane or compressed natural gas, making it the only half-ton pickup with that capability. The customer must then take their factory-prepped truck to a qualified vehicle modifier to install the proper fuel tanks, fuel lines and fuel injectors. The cost of the upfitting ranges from $7,500 to $9,500.
Dealers will start taking orders this summer; the truck goes on sale in the winter, said spokesman Mike Levine.
To run on the lower-cost gases, the trucks need an upgraded intake and exhaust valves, as well as other modifications.
“We surveyed customers likely to use natural gas or propane, and 72 percent told us they want to have these alternative-fuel capabilities available on F-150 with the 5.0-liter V8 engine,” said Jon Coleman, Ford fleet sustainability and technology manager.
“We expect the gaseous-fuel prep package will be even more popular than it was on the 2014 F-150 with the 3.7-liter V-6 engine,” Coleman said, noting the fuel does not change towing capability or payload beyond subtracting the weight of the installed CNG or propane system.
Fleet buyers appreciate the hedge against fluctuating gasoline prices, which may be low now but are expected to increase at some point.
Compressed natural-gas costs are currently the equivalent of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline, compared with $2.58 per gallon, on average, for gasoline. CNG is mostly methane, and about 85 percent of the natural-gas supply is produced domestically. In parts of the country where it is produced, the cost is as low as $1.
The F-150 becomes the eighth commercial vehicle from Ford offered with a factory-installed option to convert to propane and CNG.