Chevrolet will build an Impala that can run on gasoline or natural gas and will sell it to consumer and fleet customers alike.
According to the press release from General Motors, the bi-fuel Impala will be the only manufacturer-produced full-size bi-fuel sedan and is expected to go on sale next summer as a 2015 model. The release said the bi-fuel Impala does away with the range anxiety CNG vehicles typically instill in their drivers because it can run on gasoline like any other Impala.
That range anxiety comes, of course, because CNG refueling infrastructure is near nonexistent in America. Fleet customers who have a CNG refueling station of their own might not be able to relate to that, but for us regular joes, a CNG-only model would be even more anxiety-inducing than an EV in some parts of the country. Example: I know of probably half a dozen EV quick chargers within 25 miles of my home. Number of CNG pumps in that same radius? You guessed it. Zero.
GM CEO Dan Akerson said, “We know that U.S. energy security won’t come from a one-off moonshot. 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.”
Yes, the quote from the press release had those ellipses. Yes, it drives me nuts.
The release said CNG vehicles typically have 20% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered cars, according to the California Air Resources Board. The CNG-capable Impala is part of GM’s effort to save 12 billion gallons of gasoline in its 2011 to 2017 model year vehicles, which the automaker says would be the equivalent of offsetting nearly a year of crude imports from the Persian Gulf. In addition to the CNG Impala, the General is pursuing the goal with technologies that include lighter materials to reduce vehicle mass, alternative fuels, clean diesel, and electrification, according to the release.