Chevrolet confirmed pricing today for the bi-fuel version of its 2015 model year Impala full-size sedan.
Slated to arrive at Chevrolet stores during the four quarter of 2014, the vehicles will carry a starting price of $38,210 including destination charges. For that price, Chevrolet plans to offer private and fleet customers a base LS trimmed model with the option for a better-equipped LT trim as well. Pricing for that version is still undisclosed.
Normally, Chevrolet only offers the less expensive 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with its base LS trimmed Impala. That won’t be the case later this year when these cars start to arrive. Instead, Impalas capable of burning compressed natural gas will only be offered with a fortified version of the 3.6-liter V6.
While Chevrolet plans to sell the vehicle to both private and fleet buyers, the option to switch between fuels is traditionally something geared toward company use vehicles because of the flexibility inherent to being able to switch between two types of fuel.
Based on the price of CNG, GM estimates that customer can expect to see up to a $1.50 per gallon equivalent in fuel savings while burning the compressed gas. Impalas equipped with the ability to switch will come with a tank comparable in capacity to a 7.8-gallon gasoline tank that GM expects to offer roughly 150 city miles of driving range. Official EPA figures aren’t available yet, but again GM said it expects the car to offer up to 500 miles of driving range according to internal tests. While burning natural gas, the V6 makes 230 hp and 218 lb-ft of torque which is approximately 88 percent of the normal output.
Switching between the two fuel types takes place seamlessly and automatically, although the car will default to burning CNG unless the driver presses a button mounted on the dashboard to change fuels.
Yesterday, Chevrolet announced strong growth in Impala sales and high average transaction prices. When the company first launched the 10th-generation Impala, it planned to reserve the new version for retail customers while continuing to produce the previous cars for fleet purposes through its Oshawa, Canada plant where both versions are currently assembled.
While Chevrolet plans to offer the bi-fuel Impala across its roughly 3,200 store network across the U.S., the bulk of sales will head to commercial fleets where vehicles log high annual mileage. Comparing the CNG-capable Impala to its gasoline-only sibling directly in terms of price is difficult because the V6 model isn’t typically offered with the base LS trim. Instead, customers are normally required to buy the 2LT package at minimum, which starts at $30,895. But the base bi-fuel model begins at $38,210 including delivery but before dealer fees and other taxes. It will also come without much of the premium interior content that won praise in past evaluations by AutoGuide.com and other outlets.
For fleets, the option makes sense the additional cost for a bi-fuel model could easily outweigh the higher initial price over the course of a moderate year’s driving. CNG is less common at re-fueling stations, which is a factor more easily offset for company vehicles that tend to spend most of their lives in a relatively small radius. Currently, there are 705 fueling stations in the U.S. that offer CNG excluding privately owned pumps. According to records from the U.S. Department of Energy, the cost for compressed natural gas has hovered roughly around $2 per gasoline gallon equivalent since 2004.
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