The 2015 Chevrolet Impala will include an option for compressed natural gas (CNG), according to an announcement by General Motors on Wednesday.
The new Impala will feature a redesigned body as well as two fuel tanks, one for regular gasoline and one for CNG. The car is slated to go on sale next summer and will be sold at retail and to fleets.
GM’s decision to sell a CNG-powered Impala could help the company in the long run. USA Today reports that, while the US has seen a boom in the production of natural gas through fracking, prices are still low.
The fuel burns cleaner as well, though not many vehicles on the market can use it. Instead, most of the CNG vehicles out there are from private converters. Only Honda has a natural gas-powered car on sale to consumers, a Civic.
However, the new GM lineup will include natural gas options for the Impala, as well as the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevy Express and GMC Savana.
Reuters notes that the 2015 Impala will act much like the Chevy Volt in that it will switch seamlessly from CNG to regular gas and back. The Volt can switch from battery to gas and back. Because of this, the car will have a range of 500 miles before it needs a fill up on fuel.
The car will still want for CNG fill-up stations, though that isn’t GM’s fault. There are about 1,350 natural gas filling stations in the United States and about half are open to the public. In contrast, there are about 168,000 retail gas stations across the country.
However, if other automakers follow GM’s lead with the Impala, pickups, and vans, the number of natural gas stations will likely increase. GM’s chief executive, Dan Akerson, added that production of the bi-fuel impala will likely be smaller to start out, explaining that the automaker would love to sell 750 to 1,000 of the vehicles in the first year.
GM didn’t say how much the 2015 Impala will cost, though a regular version starts out at $27,700.