Chevrolet and GMC CNG Full-Size Vans Available in Fall

General Motors announced this week that it completed the production process for its Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered versions of the 2011 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans for fleet and commercial customers that will arrive later this year. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) powered versions of the vans will follow.

The decision to offer these two alternative fuel vehicles was made in response to the industry commitment to expand the CNG and LPG infrastructure in key fleet markets said Brian Small, general manager of GM’s fleet and commercial operations.

Fleet operators have long recognized the benefits of CNG over gasoline: with a similar equivalent fuel mileage there’s a significant cost savings at the pump—CNG costs less than $2.00 per gallon (equivalent) in many parts of the U.S.—and for the environment there are fewer emissions out the tailpipe. The roadblock has been the poor availability of refueling locations. Now, with an expanding infrastructure, fleets see not only the opportunity for cost savings but to go green.

By offering the CNG alternative fuel as a factory option, GM will be the only manufacturer to offer a one-source CNG van, allowing customers to focus on their business rather than on contracting the conversion of their vehicles.

The CNG vans will use GM’s Vortec 6.0-liter V-8 engine, modified with hardened exhaust valves, and intake and exhaust valve seats for improved wear resistance and durability with gaseous fuel systems. These hardened engines will be assembled into the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans at GM’s Wentzville, Mo. plant.

In addition, GM has chosen Productive Concepts (PCI), an alternative fuels conversion company, to become an integral part of its production. PCI will integrate the CNG fuel delivery and storage system with the hardened engine at its facility in Union City, Ind.
Once the CNG system is integrated into the vans at PCI, they can be shipped to many specialty vehicle manufacturers to have commercial equipment added, or directly to Chevrolet and GMC dealers.

Green as in Dollars, As Well as Eco

The vans will meet all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission certification requirements, and will be fully compliant with applicable motor vehicle safety standards.

Each CNG Chevrolet Express or GMC Savana van also will be covered by GM’s three-year, 36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and five-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

Pricing has not been announced but expect the option to cost in the $7,500 to $8,000 range. Compared to the only other green light commercial vehicle coming to market, Ford’s Transit Connect Electric, that’s a bargain. Plus, to fill a fuel tank with CNG only takes a few minutes, not a few hours that it will take to juice up the Connect’s battery pack.

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  • JamesDavis

    They sure did abuse those words, “Go Green”. There is nothing green or energy saving about those fossil fuel vehicles. The gas companies are going to hollow, “Supply and Demand!!!” and those gas prices are going to go above gas prices we have now and sales are going to drop off and these fossil fuel vehicles are going to go the way of the other fossil fuel vehicles.

    Chevy and GMC are not two of the sharpest tools in the shed.

  • Shines

    James you should take a little time and research issues before you start your rants. CNG vehicles are considered to be the greenest available as CNG engines produce virtually no pollution. The exhaust is water vapor – virtually no CO2. In some ways since most electricity is created by coal burning, these trucks are greener than electric vehicles. It is true that CNG is a fossil fuel but the US does not have to import it. It is a reasonable intermediate step – similar to hybrids to carry us over to full electric once our grid can be supplied by renewable resources such as solar and wind. I say give GM some credit for trying this alternative.

  • JamesDavis

    Shines, someone has to “Rich Bitch Rant” about these “Rich Bitches” dragging their heels and lying to us.

  • jose

    how much is it and how many miles does it have

  • calvin

    “Virtually no pollution” is a bit of a stretch. CNG produces 89% as much CO2 as gasoline, which, even after taking into account CNG’s higher energy density, still means it produces 71.5% as much CO2 as gasoline. That’s a significant improvement, but it’s still 71.5% more than clean fuels.

    I also find the “greener than electric” claim a bit dubious. Even with 46% of our electricity supplied by coal plants, an electric car still likely gets more mileage per gram of CO2 released into the atmosphere:

    – internal combustion engines in cars are generally 30% efficient in optimum conditions (e.g. RPM, air temp, etc.), but the actual efficiency ranges from 0% (idling) to 30%;
    – steam turbines used for industrial power generation range in efficiency between 30% to 50% (theoretical), or more realistically 30% to 40%–but a steam turbine power plant runs at optimal efficiency over 99% of the time;
    – Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is already beginning to be implemented in coal-burning power plants, which will reduce actual CO2 released into the atmosphere by up to 90%;
    – driving EVs and building more natural gas power plants is more efficient and greener than CNG vehicles, as you have better engine efficiency and you can pipe LNG directly to a few central power plants rather than trucking them to the 1M+ gas stations around the country.

  • Mark 010261

    The worst pollutant to come out of a gasoline automobile, including all hybrids, is carbon monoxide. That is what will kill you if you are in a closed space such as your garage with the engine running. CNG cars release only trace amounts of monoxide, less than 1% of a comparable gasoline car. The exhaust coming out of the tailpipe of a Honda GX is breathable by humans.

    That is why they are called the cleanest cars on the road today.

  • Doughnuts

    Mark’s correct, although I still wouldn’t want to breathe it! 🙂 That’s why you can use nat gas for your stovetop, dryer, etc, and for the most part the exhaust is not vented.

    Calvin’s point about 71.5% more polluting is interesting. Actually it would be infinity% more polluting if you’re assuming no emissions for electric. Only a very small percentage of electricity in California is generated from coal so the actual number is quite low here. Electric will be the way to go for passenger vehicles but these Chevy vans are 3/4 ton vehicles, mostly used as work trucks. You’d pay more than the 41k these CNG vans will cost for just the batteries.

  • International Trucks

    I was like, wow, $16000 for a CNG van! thanks for sharing a great post. it is good news for the transport services. this van most useful for commercial purpose. chevrolet made good design for such van. but how much color range available for this van.

  • tapra1

    for the environment there are fewer emissions out the tailpipe. The roadblock has been the poor availability of refueling locations. Now, with an expanding infrastructure, fleets see not only the opportunity for cost savings but to go green.LLA Tech

  • Lorrie

    Thanks for standing up to this hostile idiot. (in a gentlemanly manner!) 🙂