Answering a question nobody was asking, General Motors announced today that it will sell a version of the 10th generation Impala capable of running on gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG).
When the vehicle goes on sale next summer as a 2015 model, it will be the only manufacturer-produced full-size sedan with bi-fuel capability. It will be made available to both fleet and retail buyers.
“We know that U.S. energy security won’t come from a one-off moonshot,” GM CEO Dan Akerson said. “It will flow from our systematic investment in technology and innovation… our drive to get more from existing energy sources and renewables… our commitment to conservation… and it will be assured by fully and safely exploiting our shale gas reserves.”
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The powertrain can switch seamlessly between burning CNG and gasoline and is meant to address range anxiety from vehicles that only run on natural gas – plentiful as they are. There are currently 605 CNG fueling stations in the U.S. about a bout 168,000 gasoline stations according to the Department of Energy.
CNG produces 20 percent less greenhouse gas than a comparable gasoline engine according to the California Air Resources Board. It’s also less expensive than gasoline and is abundantly available.
General Motors didn’t announce a price for the bi-fuel Impala today. Last year, GM announced that its heavy-duty pickup trucks are available with an up-fit that would add about $11,000 to the price of the truck. People who own large truck fleets can stand to save money on fuel over time by being less vulnerable to shifts in gas prices, although a GM spokesman admitted to AutoGuide during a recent media event the CNG kit isn’t proving to be a particularly popular option.
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