Chrysler Steps Back Ten Years to Jump Into the Future with CNG-Powered Pick Up +VIDEO
Chrysler takes the first step in actualizing Sergio Marchionne’s mandate to bring CNG back into play
By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
As any regular visitor to TheAutoChannel.com may know, Bob Gordon and I have been big supporters of compressed natural gas and have vigorously advocated a resumption of building and selling CNG-powered vehicles in America as a major step in the fight to end our dependence on foreign oil and gasoline. You may also know, from reading my articles on the subject that I've put my own money where my mouth is and purchased a used Dodge Ram 1500 V-8 full size van powered by CNG. It is one of two vehicles that I personally own and drive regularly (the other is a non-flex fuel Ford Taurus that I fill with E85 to prove that all modern vehicles can run safely and efficiently on ethanol).
My factory-installed CNG van is one of the CNG vehicles that Chrysler stopped making about ten years ago when they, along with the two other so-called American car makers, abandoned CNG as an engine fuel. There are several excuses as to why they stopped making CNG cars and trucks, which all revolve around the pretext that there weren't sufficient fueling facilities around the country. Were there sufficient independent CNG stations around the country, no, but there was no reason why more couldn’t be opened, not to mention that all homes that use natural gas could install their own low-pressure CNG filling units (in exactly the same manner that home electric car chargers can be installed). Therefore, for the overwhelming portion of the automobile owners who drive only 30-40 miles per day, the in-home fill units are/were a fantastic source.
The real reason why the “Detroit 3” stopped making CNG vehicles is that our politicians were "enticed" by the oil lobby to allow the car makers to retreat from their commitment to use alternative fuels and/or significantly increase vehicle mpg capability. Consequently, although Chrysler, GM and Ford still knew how to build CNG-powered automobiles (and continued to do so for sale in other countries), we were left with just Honda as the single source of new CNG passenger vehicles - and they only make one in very limited quantity, the Civic CNG, formerly designated as the GX.
A number of car manufacturers in other countries (other than the foreign divisions of the Detroit 3) have regularly built CNG-powered cars. Fiat is one example. Back in 2009, before Fiat’s acquisition of Chrysler, Fiat made a pretty strong commitment to CNG when they announced that they would build six different passenger car models that would run on CNG. The six models were the Grande Punto, Panda, Punto, Multipla and DoblÚ.
Since TheAutoChannel.com is the only major automotive media outlet that is actually concerned with our fellow American citizens, we were probably the only one in the U.S. to report on the story and carry the video news release. They can still be accessed at http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2009/04/29/458815.html.
Interestingly, Carl-Peter Forster (former president of General Motors
Europe) was an advocate for CNG-powered vehicles during his reign with the
company. At the 2005 Bologna Motor Show in Italy, Mr. Forster helped
introduce the Opel Zafira CNG. Then, in October 2008 at the Paris Motor
Show, Carl-Peter made an emotional call for governmental help to make CNG a
ubiquitous engine fuel to combat high gasoline prices and as a way to solve
the global economic depression (that we still suffer from). The two
articles mentioned can be found at
When Sergio Marchionne led Fiat through the Chrysler acquisition he reportedly told veteran Chrysler staffers that Chrysler would again be building CNG-powered automobiles. With the announcement made last week that the Ram 2500 Pick Up will be available as a CNG model, the promise was fulfilled…and not a moment too soon.
Watch the Ram CNG video news release
We have lot’s more great CNG-related content on TheAutoChannel.com that you will find helpful in understanding the potential of using CNG. We also explain how misguided efforts by both our Federal government and State governments have kept this solution from us. Please avail yourself of this information by typing “CNG” in our search box at the top of the page.