Chrysler Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chrysler Group LLC and producer of the Ram truck, has confirmed its intentions to manufacture a factory-built compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) truck, with first vehicles expected to be delivered in July this year. The Ram 2500 Heavy Duty CNG pickup is designed for fleet and commercial customers and offers cost and emissions benefits. Using CNG the engine delivers the same power, performance, and capability of a conventional Ram truck.
“Commercial customers are extremely important to Ram Truck,” said Fred Diaz, Ram Truck President and CEO Ram Truck Brand– Chrysler Group LLC, who hinted at Chrysler’s intentions for the CNG Ram early in 2011. “Adding a hard-working, fully capable CNG-powered truck to the Ram lineup makes a lot of sense – both economically and environmentally.”
Ram executives expect customers to include telecommunications companies, public utilities, natural gas production firms and government agencies.
The Ram HD CNG is powered by the 5.7-litre HEMI V8 and features both compressed gas storage tanks and a 30-litre (8-gallon) gasoline fuel tank.
The Ram’s 5.7-litre HEMI bi-fuel engine has been modified to run on CNG and gasoline. Redesigned heads with specifically designed CNG compatible valves and valve-seat materials allow the engine to burn both fuels. It also gets a second, CNG-specific fuel rail and set of injectors. New spark plugs improve combustion and durability, and a new powertrain control module allows the HEMI to operate on either of the two fuel sources. Canadian customers can opt for a 132-litre (35-gallon) gasoline tank (late availability).
The Ram 2500 CNG system was fully engineered and tested by Chrysler Group and built entirely at the company’s Heavy Duty truck plant in Saltillo, Mexico. In use, the system is automatic; eliminating operator switches altogether and utilizes either CNG or gasoline, seamlessly transitioning from one to the other with little discernable difference in operation or capability.
Although a small amount of gasoline is used during engine startup, the Ram CNG runs exclusively on CNG. If the cylinders are emptied, the vehicle will automatically switch to gasoline. A CNG-specific gauge sits adjacent to the standard gasoline gauge in the instrument cluster.
CNG-only range is estimated to be 410 kilometres (255 miles), while the backup supply of the 30L gasoline tank extends the range to 590 total kilometres (367 miles).
The two ultra-strong 4.6 cu.-ft. CNG tanks are located in the forward portion of the Ram’s 8-foot pickup bed. Both tanks are mounted to the frame and covered by a painted 50 ksi high-strength steel cover. The CNG filler connection is located next to the gasoline fuel neck, accessed through the Ram’s fuel filler door.
The CNG tanks provide a gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) of 68.9 litres (18.2 gallons). GGEs are calculated as having the same energy equivalent as one gallon (U.S.) of gasoline.
A 5-year/100-000 kilometre powertrain limited warranty covers the HEMI V8 and transmission, and adds the internal engine components specific to CNG: the upgraded valves, the valve seats, and the specially designed spark plugs — all part of the factory installed manufacturing and production processes.
Covering virtually every other aspect of the Ram 2500 CNG is a 3-year/60,000-kilometre bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. Specific to the CNG engineering, this covers all non-engine components, including the tanks, storage compartment and fuel filler equipment.
Expanded CNG vehicle offerings and wider adoption of CNG as a primary fuel are expected to serve as a catalyst for expanded CNG product offerings and greater investment in CNG fueling infrastructure.
The CNG pickup will make its Canadian premiere on March 14 during the GLOBE Series of Conferences and Trade Fairs in Vancouver, British Columbia. Deliveries are likely to commence July 2012.
It is available exclusively as a Crew Cab 4×4 model with 169-inch wheelbase, in either an ST or SLT trim level.
CNG comes primarily from underground sources in Canada and the U.S. It is plentiful and offers lower tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel fuel. In fact, CNG vehicles emit 20 per cent less CO2 than gasoline vehicles – and benefit the environment not only by lowering tailpipe emissions, but also generating fewer greenhouse gasses in fuel production, as well. Also, dedicated NGVs produce, on average, 70 per cent less carbon monoxide, 87 per cent less NOx than traditional gasoline powered vehicles.
(This article compiled using information from a Chrysler Group LLC press release)