The 2013 Chicago Auto Show has something for everyone.
Spotting a compressed natural gas-powered heavy duty pickup truck may not be at the top of show-goers’ to-do list, but patrons who find themselves near the Ram truck display should take notice.
Ram recently announced production of a Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Crew Cab 4X4 CNG pickup truck.
The premise is simple; offer a full-size heavy duty truck that will reduce operating costs and emissions, without sacrificing performance.
This special-built 2012 RAM 2500 does not rely solely on compressed natural gas, as it has a gasoline fuel tank that allows the operator to switch to gasoline fuel operation.
Use of the duel fuel sources allows RAM 2500 CNG operators an estimated 900 miles of travel before having to re-fuel.
The factory installed twin natural gas tanks are secured in a steel enclosure in the eight-foot bed of our test truck. Re-fueling the tanks at a compressed natural gas station requires the operator to connect a gas fuel line directly to the canisters.
Fill time for the CNG cylinders are comparable to gasoline fuel tanks.
Switching between CNG and gasoline fuel requires the operator to manually turn the natural gas tank knobs to an off position.
Once off, truck sensors automatically draw fuel from the gasoline fuel tank.
Compressed natural gas is generally 30 percent less expensive than gasoline. Fuel mileage is nearly identical, regardless of fuel source.
The 2012 RAM 2500 Heavy Duty CNG pickup is powered by the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. The cylinder heads and valves are specifically designed to accommodate CNG, and a new powertrain control module allows the engine to burn both fuels.
RAM 2500 pulls nicely on either fuel source, though slightly stronger on standard fuel.
Standard bench seating is capable of delivering all-day comfort. The ride is firm but comfortable and the cabin experience is pleasant with relatively low noise levels. Visibility is excellent.
Controls are nicely positioned and operators are confronted with a sizable high resolution display that projects a rear view camera. There are ample 12V power connectors, as well as USB ports to power mobile devices and stay connected.
The 2012 RAM 2500 Heavy Duty CNG package costs $11,000 over the truck’s base price of $40,745. It's designed for commercial and fleet customers who want to reduce operating costs, while reducing emissions at the same time.
Key to buyers is the proximity to compressed natural gas re-fueling infrastructure.
The 2012 RAM 2500 Heavy Duty Compressed Natural Gas pickup is produced at Chrysler Group’s Satillo Truck Assembly plant in Mexico.