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Ford Motor Co. (F - Analyst Report) has become the first truck manufacturer to offer a half-ton pickup truck capable of running on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The automaker has started the production of the 2014 F-150 with a factory-installed, gaseous-fuel prep package.

The optional prep package of Ford comprises hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings. This allows the truck to run on both CNG and LPG using separate fuel systems.

Ford F-150 comes with a 3.7-liter V6 engine, which in combination with the bi-fuel package, gives it the capacity to cover up to 750 miles on the combined tanks of gasoline and CNG. The truck has an EPA-estimated rating of 23 mpg on the highway and a combined rating of 19 mpg.

Ford is manufacturing the CNG-capable F-150 on the request of its business and fleet customers. The fuel has the advantage of low price as well as low emissions. CNG has an average price of $2.10 per gallon of gasoline equivalent in the U.S., compared with $3.29 per gallon for unleaded regular fuel. Moreover, CNG leads to 30% lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Further, almost 20 states are planning tax incentives and rebates for CNG-converted vehicles, which will result in further savings for fleet administrators.

Ford is planning to introduce 8 commercial vehicles with the gaseous-prep option in other vehicles as well by summer. These include Transit Connect van and wagon; Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab; E-Series van, wagon, cutaway and stripped chassis; F-Series Super Duty pickup and F-350 chassis cab; F-Series Super Duty chassis cab (F-450, F-550); F-650 medium-duty truck; F53 and F59 stripped chassis; and 2014 F-150 light-duty pickup. This will be the largest batch of CNG-capable vehicles offered by any full-line manufacturer.

Ford expects to sell over 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles in 2013, up 25% from 2012. The automaker’s clientele for alternative-fuel vehicles includes telecommunication giant AT&T, Inc. (T - Analyst Report), which bought 650 F-350 chassis cabs with the CNG-prep option.

Ford currently carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Other major automobile stocks worth considering are General Motors Company (GM - Analyst Report) and Daimler AG (DDAIF). While Daimler is a Zacks Rank #1 stock, General Motors carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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