2008 Bangkok International Motor Show : Chevrolet Colorado CNG

Chevrolet Thailand gave us a look at their Colorado CNG at the Bangkok International Motor Show that ended on Sunday. Chevrolet already has a factory equipped CNG version of the Optra sedan and estate on the market, and this CNG version of Chevrolet's one-ton pick-up has been on the cards for a few years now.

Read on for more information and pictures from the show...

Big green box!

I'm assuming that the big green box is just for the show model, and will be replaced by something tidier that fits the cargo bed better than this.

Tata Motors have a CNG/NGV version of the Xenon, and although I am in no way recommending that particular truck to anyone, I would like to contrast Chevrolet's solution to the positioning of the tank, with the approach used by Tata. (See below.)

This is a far better idea, as it doesn't compromise on cargo space, and it still appears that they have managed to offer decent gas capacity.

Back to the Colorado, the text on the big green box is in Thai and basically says:

Dual Fuel System
Use Natural Gas (CNG/NGV)
And Diesel or Biodiesel (B2,B5)
at the ratio of 65:35

CNG is Cheap

With diesel prices on the rise and currently sitting well above THB 31 per litre, even for biodiesel, the cost of load lugging is on the rise too. CNG on the other hand, is cheap. Most - if not all - taxis in Bangkok run on either LPG or CNG, and given the option to run on cheaper fuel, most people will take that option, particularly if the decision is a business one.

CNG is cheap, at THB 8.50 per kilogram, but the average tank will only take 7 - 10 kg (depending on size), which means that filling the tank will cost less than THB 85, but trips to the local gas station will be frequent.

Chevrolet is offering this "Duel Fuel" system on the S-Cab and X-Cab 2.5 litre models, with a full 3-year or 100,000 km warranty.

The system allows you to choose between two modes of operation: diesel or diesel+CNG. Of course for economic (and environmental) reasons, running in diesel+CNG mode is preferable, and diesel mode should really only be used when the CNG runs out. In the event that the gas does run out the system will automatically switch to diesel mode.

I'd feel much better about this if more thought had gone into the placement of the gas tank. And I'd feel even better about it if the name plate had stayed in place. Still, we must give credit to Chevrolet.

Other options

If you currently own a diesel truck you could always have a CNG system retro-fitted. This will depend on the engine technology, and I believe that it works better with modern common-rail engines.

But if you are looking for a recreational truck that is cheap to fuel, then the best option might be a petrol burning Vigo 2.7 VVT-i. This can be converted to run on LPG which has several advantages over CNG. Although slightly more expensive, you can run on 100% LPG, and the range on LPG will be comparable to petrol.

Or, if you have money, you could do this: