GM sells few hundred delayed bi-fuel Chevy Impalas

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co., which delayed the rollout of the 2015 bi-fuel Chevrolet Impala for about a year, has now delivered to customers about 200 of the vehicles that can run on compressed natural gas or gasoline.

Chevrolet spokesman Chad Lyons confirmed the vehicle was delayed to ensure quality.

“We did voluntarily delay delivery on initial orders of the 2015 model year to ensure the technology performed with the highest quality standards, but we have since made those deliveries months ago,” Lyons said in an email to The Detroit News. “In fact, we have have received orders and are building ’16 model years as well.”

Bi-fuel Impalas, which started at $38,210 for a 2015 model, run on compressed natural gas and can seamlessly switch to gasoline power. Drivers also can change fuels by pushing a dashboard button. So far, most have been purchased by commercial and fleet customers.

The vehicle was announced in October 2013 at an energy summit by then-CEO Dan Akerson who said the carmaker would build less than 1,000 of them in the first year. He said then that the vehicle would be available in summer 2014.

In spring 2014, GM announced the vehicle would be available in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The compressed natural gas tank is mounted in the trunk and offers the equivalent of about 7.8 gallons of gasoline. The vehicle has a natural gas range of 119 miles and a gasoline range of 368 miles and a total range of 487 miles, according to federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates. GM initially said it expected the natural gas range to be about 150 miles of city driving and to hit 500 city miles combined.

The EPA figures differ slightly and are a bit less than GM’s own current estimates for the vehicle.

The bi-fuel Impala, powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 engine, is built at GM’s Oshawa Assembly Plant in Ontario and then shipped to a supplier in Michigan that installs the compressed natural gas system. The vehicles then are shipped to GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant for final delivery to customers that typically are commercial or fleet.

GM has said the bi-fuel Impala will be available to buy at more than 3,200 Chevy U.S. dealerships.

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