Ford Ads Its Ninth Natural-Gas Powered Van image

Ford will add its 9th natural-gas-powered van, mind due to record-law prices for natural gas.

The European-style, discount full-size Transit, will replace the Econoline and will be introduced at the beginning of 2014. The model will run on compressed natural gas or liquefied propane. Ford will also offer the redesigned Transit Connect by the end of 2013, which will also have the natural gas option.

Last year Ford sold 11,600 natural-gas vehicles, thanks to the 10-year low natural-gas prices, its new natural-gas-powered models and an increase in gas production. GM and Chrysler also introduced natural-gas versions such as the Silverado, Ram and Sierra pickups, while Honda, expanded sales of its natural-gas-powered Civic from 4 to 37 states.

Analysts predict that the market will keep expanding, with Dave Hurst of Pike Research expecting annual sales of natural-gas vehicles to increase 10% per year by 2019 to 40,000 units. Chrysler announced it has sold 242 Ram CNG pickups in Oklahoma, one of the biggest natural-gas producers in the US. At the end of January, the average price in the US for compressed natural gas was $2.10 equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, which means that it is 44% cheaper than the regular gasoline.