Photo by Vince Taroc.
I had an opportunity to test drive the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Crew Cab with the bi-fuel CNG option for a week and was very impressed. In fact, I primarily drove the pickup using CNG and was struck as to how indistinguishable it was from being powered by gasoline.
I’ve driven a number of CNG vehicles over the years and I must say this was one of the most seamless bi-fuel transitions I have experienced, segueing from CNG to gasoline and back all with a simple flip of the switch — while you are driving. This produces a very pleasant user experience and also a strong appreciation of the engineering that allows this to occur.
Also, the effortless transition from one fuel to the other will help facilitate use by fleet drivers who, in the past, were reluctant to use the bi-fuel option and switch to the alternative fuel. Not all bi-fuel systems allow drivers to manually switch fuels.
The beauty of these models is that they provide reduced CO2 emissions (compared to the gasoline engine), while continuing to deliver full-size truck utility.
The CNG option is available on all 2015 Silverado 2500HD configurations and Silverado 3500HD models with single rear wheels, along with the 2500HD double cab and crew cab models, and with 2500HD regular cab and all 3500HD models. The bi-fuel CNG option is available on standard- or long-box models in both 2WD and 4WD.
The bi-fuel CNG Silverado/Sierra 2500/3500HD uses the 6.0L Vortec V-8 with factory-installed hardened exhaust valves and intake/exhaust valve seats engineered for gaseous fuel use. As mentioned earlier, the Vortec 6.0L V-8 engine can seamlessly transition between CNG and gasoline.
However, there is a slight difference in power between CNG and gasoline. The gasoline engine produces 360 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. While running on CNG, the engine produces 301 hp and 333 lb.-ft. of torque.
Photo by Vince Taroc.
Besides allowing the driver to seamlessly switch fuels with the flip of a switch, the fuel system automatically switches to gasoline when the CNG tank is empty. This greatly expands the pickups driving range, which compensates for the lower power in the CNG mode. The combined 17 gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) CNG tank and 36-gallon gasoline tank provide a range of more than 650 miles, it is very impressive.
The CNG tank is located in the pickup bed providing easy access when refueling. On the interior, the gasoline fuel gauge also doubles as the CNG fuel gauge, a very nice touch.
From a fleet maintenance perspective, the CNG fuel delivery and storage system is covered under GM’s limited warranty and is serviceable by Chevrolet and GMC dealers. Plus, all major components have GM service part numbers for broad availability.
In the CNG system, all high-pressure fuel lines are located between the frame rails, which increase vehicle safety in the event of a collision. There is a full 10-year corrosion validation, which is similarly value in Snow Belt regions. Lastly, the bi-fuel CNG Silverado/Sierra has a comprehensive five-year/100,000-mile transferable powertrain limited warranty, which is not the case for all manufacturers. All in all, I walked away really liking my experience with the truck and feeling like it will help expand CNG usage among fleet users.
PHOTOS: GM's Bi-Fuel CNG Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD