General Motors will build a Chevrolet Impala sedan for retail and fleet customers that operates on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG), GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson announced yesterday at an energy summit marking the 40th anniversary of the OPEC Oil Embargo.
It is the only manufacturer-produced full-size bi-fuel sedan and expected to go on sale next summer as a 2015 model, according to GM. The bi-fuel Impala is an example of using affordable technology to reduce oil consumption and save consumers money at the pump, said Akerson.
“We know that U.S. energy security won’t come from a one-off moonshot,” 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.”
Natural gas is a cleaner-burning transportation fuel compared to petroleum products and costs significantly less than gasoline at current prices. CNG vehicles typically have 20% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered cars, according to the California Air Resources Board.
The Chevrolet Impala bi-fuel sedan addresses the range anxiety issue associated with vehicles that run only on natural gas, Akerson said. It features a factory-engineered and fully warranted powertrain that switches seamlessly from CNG to gasoline. Total range is expected to be up to 500 miles.
In addition to advanced technologies and alternative fuels, Akerson said achieving energy security will require productive partnerships between energy companies, utilities, environmental groups, labor unions, universities and manufacturers. GM is working closely with 14 of the country’s largest unions and environmental groups through the Blue-Green Alliance, and it has relationships with regulators that are “more constructive than ever,” according to Akerson.