Conversions

The rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel is prompting many people to investigate options to retrofit or convert their car, pick-up truck, van, or smaller SUV to run either solely on natural gas (“dedicated”) or on gasoline and natural gas, (“dual-fuel” or “bi-fuel”).

Qualified System Retrofitters (QSRs)

Such conversions must be performed by qualified system retrofitters (QSRs), using conversion systems that are certified either by the EPA or the State of California.

For a list of QSRs by State, click here.

Estimated Costs

In considering the conversion of an existing vehicle, owners should look at whether the conversion costs will be recouped in fuel savings over the remaining life of the vehicle.

Converting a new vehicle provides the greatest opportunity to save on fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. The costs range from $12,000 to $18,000 and include the retrofit system, fuel tanks and related tubing/brackets, and the installation. Potential customers should contact manufacturers directly about vehicle conversion costs but the following are general estimates of retail light-duty vehicle conversion costs provided by manufacturers.

  • E350 Cargo/Passenger Van with 20 GGE fuel: $15,500
     
  • F150/250/350 Pick-up Truck with 20 GGE: $16,500; with 30 GGE: $18,500
     
  • E450 Cutaway Shuttle Van with 24-38 GGE: $18,500-22,500
     
  • Sierra/Silverado 1500/2500HD Pick-up Truck with 11GGE: $12,500; with 20GGE: $15,500
     
  • Savanna/Express G1500/2500 Cargo/Passenger Van 12-20GGE: $12,500-16,000

Warranty and Emissions

Generally, installing aftermarket parts does not affect the original equipment manufacturer’s warranty. This is the case with the installation of aftermarket conversion systems. EPA has stated that the “vehicle's original manufacturer remains liable for warranty of any systems which retain their original purpose following conversion, except in cases where the failure of such a system is determined to be caused by the conversion.”

Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) require the manufacturers of aftermarket systems to certify that their conversion systems meet emissions and onboard vehicle diagnostics interface requirements. EPA and CARB can levy substantial fines for violating this requirement, since it is against the law to tamper with emissions systems on vehicles if the result is greater emissions. The only way to protect against a tampering violation is to have a valid certificate of conformity from EPA or a CARB Executive Order for the conversion system.

The number of Small Volume Original Equipment Manufacturers (SVM) continues to increase as new companies with automotive engineering expertise see the aftermarket retrofit opportunity. Currently, there are nearly a dozen manufacturers offering EPA-certified systems for about a dozen GM and Ford light-duty “engine families” covering about 40 vehicle models (and various iterations of the same base models).


Source: NGV America.