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Ford Motor Co. on Monday said its 2016 model year F-150 — which hits dealer lots this winter — will offer a compressed natural gas option on its 5-liter V8 engine that runs on fuel cheaper than both unleaded gas and diesel.

The Dearborn automaker said the F-150 will become the only half-ton pickup with the gaseous-fuel prep package option, which allows customers to run on clean, low-cost compressed natural gas or propane.

The option will cost customers thousands of dollars: $315 for Ford to prep the engine, and between $7,500-$9,500 to have a Ford qualified vehicle modifier supply and upfit the engine with the necessary fuel tanks, fuel lines and fuel injectors.

“For us, it’s another way of providing improved productivity and efficiency to our broad customer base,” Doug Scott, Ford’s F-150 marketing manager, said in a statement.

Compressed natural gas is mainly composed of methane. It is stored and distributed in hard containers at a pressure of approximately 3,600 psi. Ford had previously offered the CNG option on its 2014 F-150’s 3.7-liter V6 engine, but believes it can sell more on the V8 to customers who want lower fuel costs.

As of April 30, compressed natural gas was selling for an average of $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent. The national average for unleaded regular fuel is $2.58 per gallon.

Scott said the CNG option will be relatively low volume, and most of the orders will likely come from commercial or fleet customers in states like Texas and Oklahoma, where CNG-capable fueling stations are most plentiful. There are six CNG-equipped fueling stations in Metro Detroit, according to cngnow.com, which maps stations across the country.

Ford said F-150 trucks running on CNG or propane will be able to tow the same amount as if they were running on gasoline. Payload capability will be the same as well — minus the weight of the installed CNG or propane system, which Scott says will be minimal.

Ford sells a gaseous-fuel prep option on seven other vehicles: the F-250 and F-350 Super Duty pickups; the F-450 and F-550 Super Duty chassis cabs; the F-650 and F-750 chassis cabs; the F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis; the Transit Connect van and wagon; the Transit van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cabs; and the E-Series cutaway and stripped chassis.

Ford sold a record 16,821 commercial vehicles with CNG/propane gaseous engine-prep packages in 2014. The automaker has sold more than 57,000 CNG/propane-prepped vehicles since 2009.

“The growth in interest for CNG/propane-prepped vehicles shows a shift in fleet customers’ mindsets,” Dick Cupka, Ford commercial vehicle sustainability leader, said in a statement. “They are becoming more forward-thinking about alternative fuels, taking into account their total cost of ownership and looking for ways to reduce their vehicle emissions.”

Ford currently has four vehicle modifiers that offer CNG or propane bi-fuel and dedicated kits for the F-150: Two in Michigan (Sterling Heights and Adrian), one in Dallas and one in North Carolina.

Ford will start taking orders for the 2016 F-150 this summer, and the pickup will hit showrooms this winter.

mmartinez@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/MikeMartinez_DN

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