October 17, 2013. General Motors Co. (GM) will begin selling a Chevrolet Impala next year that can seamlessly switch between compressed natural gas (CNG) and gasoline as the automaker looks to create a bigger market for alternative-fueled vehicles.
It's a move similar to GM's strategy with the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid sedan that can go about 40 miles (64 kilometers) on electricity before a gasoline engine engages and powers a generator to recharge the battery.
"This approach takes range anxiety completely off the table by offering 150 miles of range using CNG and an additional 350 miles on gasoline," Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson said in Washington D.C. "There will be nothing like it on the road-literally."
GM, based in Detroit, is trying to improve its image as a maker of fuel-efficient vehicles to catch up with competitors such as Toyota Motor Corp., with is mass-market Prius hybrid, and Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) with is luxury electric cars.
The bi-fuel Impala will go on sale next year as a 2015 model, according to an e-mailed GM statement. Akerson said in the speech that most deliveries will be to commercial and government fleets "and selling 750 to 1,000 units in the first model year would be a home run."
CNG vehicles are part of a broader approach by GM to boost fuel efficiency and meet tougher U.S. mileage requirements. GM said improvements, such as alternative fuels and lighter materials, made to its 2011 to 2017 model year vehicles will save 12 billion gallons (45.4 billion liters) of gasoline in the U.S.