Ford Motor Co. is rolling out two new variations of its Transit light vehicle – a chassis cab and cutaway model – while expanding its portfolio of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid propane gas (LPG) alternative fuel propulsion packages.
In a conference call with reporters, Len Deluca, director for the Ford Commercial Vehicles division, said that the new Transitchassis cab features an enclosed passenger compartment and bare frame ready to accept aftermarket body modules ranging from custom cargo delivery to utility body.
By contrast, he noted that while the Transit cutaway is similar to the chassis cab, the rear of the passenger compartment is open so it can be paired with specialty body modules such as shuttle or school bus bodies.
The chassis cab and cutaway will both be offered in three wheelbases, 138, 156 or 178 inches, and gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs) from 9,000 lbs. to 10,360 lbs.
Ford also plans to provide a 3.7L V6 engine for the Transit with a CNG/LPG prep kit, as the OEM said more businesses and commercial customers are seeking relief from constantly fluctuating petroleum fuel prices.
“Since 2009, we’ve seen the number of [Ford] commercial vehicles sold with factory-prepped engines for CNG/LPG increase by more than 350%,” noted Jon Coleman, Ford Fleet Sustainability and Technology manager. “To expand power of choice for our commercial customers, we are offering CNG/LPG prepped engines in additional vehicle nameplates – from the Transit Connect compact van up to medium-duty F-650 models.”
He added that CNG conversion can drastically lower vehicle operating costs for fleet administrators, with CNG now selling for an average of $2.10 per gallon.
Still, Ford noted that CNG/LPG engine prep from the factory isn’t cheap, costing for starters approximately $325 before the customer chooses a partner to supply fuel tanks, fuel lines and unique fuel injectors. Total CNG/LPG conversions typically run from $9,500 to $12,500, depending on fuel tank capacity, the automaker said.
Yet, depending on application and usage, Ford said businesses can see payback for CNG/LPG systems in as little as 24 to 36 months based.