Customers can convert the cutaway into a variety of commercial requirements. Pictured is the 2011 Chevrolet Express cutaway with a cargo application.

Customers can convert the cutaway into a variety of commercial requirements. Pictured is the 2011 Chevrolet Express cutaway with a cargo application.

General Motors will offer a single-source liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) option for the 2012 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana 159-inch wheelbase cutaway vans, making GM the only automaker to offer LPG, compressed natural gas (CNG), E-85 ethanol, and B-20 biodiesel alternative-­fuel options for U.S. customers, according to GM.

Expected to ship fourth quarter 2011, the vans are built with a hardened Vortec 6.0L engine that includes hardened exhaust valves with hardened intake and exhaust valve seats. The engine features a dedicated fuel delivery system with unique engine controller calibrations for LPG.

Fueling Infrastructure Expected to Grow

“LPG infrastructure has progressed rapidly, so it’s easier for our customers to refuel in convenient locations across the country,” according to Brian Small, general manager, GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. “When our customers order the LPG option, they’re getting a sensible fuel alternative, with the convenience of a one-stop ordering process.”

U.S. customers will have the opportunity to choose from more than 2,600 LPG fueling stations across the country, a number that is expected to grow, according to GM. The LPG fuel storage systems available include a four-tank version with a 50 useable gasoline gallon equivalent capacity and a three-tank version with a 31 useable gasoline gallon equivalent capacity.

Fuel tanks are manufactured by Sleegers in Canada to last 10 years and feature an all-steel, manifolded construction. All underbody tanks will have substantial shielding to protect against road debris, curbing, and exhaust and external heat sources. The fuel gauge is calibrated to accurately measure LPG level.

When the remaining fuel range reaches 30 to 40 miles, a low fuel warning automatically displays in the driver information center, just as it would with the standard gasoline-fueled van.

GM Partners with Other Manufacturers

For the production process, GM partnered with Knapheide Manufacturing Co. as its Tier 1 manufacturer for the LPG systems. The under-hood fuel systems are provided by CleanFUEL USA and Bi-Phase Technologies, both working closely with GM engineering on engine calibration. The van will meet all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission certification requirements.

Van production will begin at GM’s Wentzville, Mo., plant and continue at Knapheide’s nearby St. Peters, Mo., facility, where they will undergo fuel storage and delivery system installation. Once completed, the new cutaway vans will then be sent to the upfitter of the customer’s choice for body installation and final certification.

Customers have the option to convert their cutaways to a variety of commercial, school bus, shuttle bus, and box truck requirements.

“Through GM’s unique manufacturing process, our fleet customers know they’re getting quality, reliability, and convenience,” said Joyce Mattman, director, commercial product and specialty vehicles.

Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana LPG cutaway vans will be covered by GM’s three-year, 36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and five-year, 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.