Chevrolet intends to bring a CNG-burning bi-fuel Impala to market before 2015.
The car, which when available will be the only full-sized bi-fuel sedan for sale in the U.S., will have a starting price of $38,210, the company announced Tuesday.
The CNG Impala will run on either compressed natural gas or regular gasoline. Under normal settings, the car will burn CNG until its tank is empty, then switch automatically to gasoline. A dashboard button will enable the driver to switch back and forth from the two tanks as well.
The company estimates that the car will have a 150-mile range on CNG. With both tanks, the range extends to an estimated 500 miles, Chevrolet said.
Compressed natural gas generally sells for less than gasoline and is believed to produce fewer pollutants. In addition, in many areas a CNG or bi-fuel car also qualifies for carpool lane privileges.
Though there are varieties of pickup trucks offering the CNG/gasoline combo and many aftermarket kits to retrofit gas cars for CNG capacity, the Honda Civic CNG is the only passenger car currently equipped for CNG fuel. (Ford sold a CNG version of its full-size Crown Victoria until 2011.)
That Honda, a five-seater, retails for at least $10,000 less than the Impala will.
Chevy's new CNG sedan, being assembled at a General Motors plant in Ontario, Canada, will be available in the fourth quarter this year and will be sold to retail customers and fleet customers.
The Impala has been a steady seller for Chevrolet since being introduced in 1958. Last year the automaker sold 157,000 of them.
Chevrolet previously sold a compact CNG car, the Cavalier, from 2000 to 2004, and has reported success with both the CNG versions of its 2500 Cargo Van and Silverado and Sierra full-size pickups.
Strong retail demand for the pickups, especially, encouraged the company to proceed with the CNG sedan plan.
"We've been listening to the market and think this is a natural progression of our start in 2012 with the Cargo Van," said Mike Jones, product manager for CNG vehicles for GM. "And we know there is a demand for a CNG sedan out there."