Trucks & SUVs

Could CNG Save The V8 Engine?

We get so wrapped up in diesel vs gasoline, or EV vs ICE that we sometimes forget there are other ways to power vehicles. Some are clean, and we’re not talking about hydrogen. What we are talking about is CNG; compressed natural gas. Cars and trucks have been converted to CNG for decades. It’s mostly composed of methane which is plentiful and cheap. We bring all of this up because a company in Germany known for tuning Ferraris and Porsches just modified a new Dodge Ram 1500. The company is JB Car Designs in Alsdorf, Germany. JB is doing a limited run of these pickups that produce drastically lower emissions than in stock form. Looking at the larger picture could CNG conversions both here and in Europe save the V8 engine?

The CNG conversion can save money and engine wear

2020 Ram 1500 JB Designs CNG pickup | JB Designs
2020 Ram 1500 JB Designs CNG pickup | JB Designs

JB has run a slew of tests on its Ram truck and the results are great. The engine develops 428 hp; almost 35 more than in stock form. Hydrocarbon emissions were reduced by 50%. Nitrogen oxide emissions were down 85% while soot emissions were reduced by almost 100%. If there is a downside it’s that mileage is reduced to 16 mpg. That is minimized by the addition of two auxiliary tanks that increase capacity to 93 gallons. These increases range to 1,250 miles which is more than the distance from Los Angeles to Seattle. Wow!

The rest of the modifications are your standard off-road improvements we know and love. The Ram 1500 features a three-inch lift augmented by 22-inch wheels and 33-inch off-road tires. The body received fender flares, underbody skid plates, and custom bumpers front and back. Those have received tow hooks, a winch that can be remotely operated, and auxiliary lighting. An air suspension has also been added to help level things out when towing big loads. 

Besides all of the visual mods there is also orange secondary lighting

2020 Ram 1500 JB Designs CNG pickup | JB Designs
2020 Ram 1500 JB Designs CNG pickup | JB Designs

A steel cage has been added to the bed. Before the combo of black and red textured paint was applied a custom hood was added. For effect orange secondary lighting is installed behind the grille, various spots under the truck, and elsewhere. We’re not exactly sure why but it enhances the pictures JB provided. 

Because the truck is only available in Germany things can be a bit pricey as compared to here. Plus, this is a high-end custom shop that caters to high-end customers, so the price tag is high. Like $134,725 high. Keep in mind that a Ram truck in Europe is a rare sighting even in stock form. Enough will find the exclusivity and features found on the JB Ram enticing such that selling out of the series is assured. 

The CNG conversion is the highlight of this project that has positive ramifications

2020 Ram 1500 JB Designs CNG pickup | JB Designs
2020 Ram 1500 JB Designs CNG pickup | JB Designs

But getting back to the CNG aspect of this project, we continue to see more and more instances of V8s being cut back. Especially in Europe where drastic emissions caps are being imposed with the penalty of huge fines for companies that don’t meet them, this could be a boon. Could CNG save the V8?

Everybody wants to do their part to leave earth cleaner than when we got here. But a lot of us like V8s. In the US costs vary from $7,000 to around $12,500 so the conversion is not cheap. But it saves fuel and maintenance costs over the long run that more than make up for the initial cost. Wear on the engine is improves, oil gets less contaminated so you can prolong oil changes, and it;’s non-toxic so it burns cleaner and also burns 100%.