When it comes to fleet vehicles, the Chevrolet Impala definitely plays an important role for General Motors, and it looks like GM is hard at work developing the next-gen Impala for bulk-buying businesses. The Motoring Journal recently spotted a handful of Impalas testing in Colorado with minor camouflage, but upon closer inspection, these appear to be test mules for a new compressed natural gas (CNG) model – a powertrain combination far more likely to find favor with fleet buyers than everyday consumers.

Aside from the obvious "CNG" stickers affixed to the decklid, these cars also have different exhaust outlets than what we saw on the V6-equipped Impalas during our first drive of the sedan back in March. Images also show under the hood with a different engine cover and plenty of exposed wiring as the CNG system continues testing. There was also an electrical connector poking out of the front fascia, and at least one of the sedans had a receiver-style trailer hitch.

During the launch of the 2014 Impala, Chevrolet said that it is looking to flip the current fleet-to-retail from 70:30 to a more profitable and resale-friendly 30:70 ratio, and this new CNG Impala could be a good way to retain some of that 30-percent fleet business. We reached out to GM for word on when a CNG Impala might arrive, and received this response:

We do offer a CNG van and a bi-fuel pickup truck, but still studying the demand for CNG powered passenger cars. Infrastructure is a consideration for anyone buying these types of vehicles. Unfortunately, there's nothing to announce today on this front.

Our best guess is that it could debut for the 2015 model year, since the ninth-generation model is carrying over for fleet-only sales as the 2014 Impala Limited.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hope so. It sucks for CNG fans that they can have any type of car as a CNG car as long as it is a Honda Civic GX.
      MTN RANGER
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love how they have the hood open for the "spy" shots.
      SPcamert
      • 1 Year Ago
      If they really are readying a new impala for this then they must also be working on a hydrogen-powered Trailblazer since I've seen that one running around for 3+ years near the R&D facility in western New York.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SPcamert
        Perhaps you mean the fuel cell Equinox? http://tinyurl.com/FCVEquinox
        archos
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SPcamert
        Thats probably the only hydrogen car you'll ever see in person. Nobody's going to intro those things with little to no hydrogen stations.
      ronwagn
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is great news, if true. It is a logical step. The should be available to anyone however, not just fleets. Thanks for covering natural gas vehicles. This is one of few sites that do.
      Vlad
      • 1 Year Ago
      What I don't get is why CNG and not LP? Liquid stuff doesn't require super-strong tanks, and fills the tank about as fast as gasoline. It is widely used overseas.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Vlad
        LP is liquid petroleum. It would cost about the same as regular gasoline, and you would get no price advantage out of it. CNG costs maybe $2.15 per GGE- a huge price advantage over gasoline.
          Vlad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Liquid propane.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          [blocked]
        Phil Cooper
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Vlad
        Refueling a CNG car at a commercial station with a large reservoir of gas is about as quick as gasoline refueling, on the order of 3 to 5 minutes. The main reason for using CNG is that the United States has enormous reserves of it; energy-wise it dwarfs the entire Middle East.
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wanna get a bunch of those CNG stickers and randomly stick them on newish cars to start rumors on ABG.
      archos
      • 1 Year Ago
      The oil industry is lobbying automakers hard for CNG cars to counter EVs. CNG is natural gas. Natural gas is why they are fracking and contaminating water supplies and aquafers. If you buy a CNG car you are supporting fracking - the most destructive, useless technology in existence. Not worth permanently contaminating our water supplies with radioactive slug. F___ YOU T BOONE HICKENS!
      Joseph Brody
      • 1 Year Ago
      CNG is a good alternative, but when you find out how difficult it is to refuel, then you might as well have a EV, which can be powered by wind and solar.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Joseph Brody
        You could compress natural gas at your house. That's not too inconvenient, no? I would take an EV + solar panel combo any day over a CNG car, but not everyone has $50,000-$100,000 to blow on that complete setup. CNG is a little step towards energy independence and lower emissions. Yes, fracking sucks. But oil is far nastier. I think if you can't afford the EV setup, a CNG car or even just a hybrid like the Prius are the next best things.
      devgchr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow that rear end looks cheap.
      Helix
      • 1 Year Ago
      At first glance I thought that was a Sonata with a chevy badge on it :O
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      CNG. So close and yet so far.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        It's been kept far away on purpose.. it's been completely possible for decades, maybe even a century.
      Judyz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here's hoping someone get's frackin serious about offering cng models. With all the fracking we are seeing natural gas prices fall. I already have a gas line supplying the energy for my hot water and heat cheaper than electric. CNG would give me a cheap at home efficient fueling option without the extra battery weight. Now please would someone convert a gas hybrid to CNG?
        archos
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Judyz
        EVs replace the engine and transmission and a bunch of other heavy parts with batteries. Not much weight difference. Comparing natural gas to electricity is pretty dumb, considering we're talking nickels and dimes. Too bad CNG is corrosive and will wear your engine and transmission out earlier than regular gas.
          Vlad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          Natural gas is way easier on the engine than gasoline.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          Not much weight difference, but a battery electric system is far less complex. Even a manual transmission with 5 gears has 40-100 moving parts inside. The engine has another few hundred parts. Then there's all the emissions equipment, exhaust, fuel lines... i'd much rather work on an EV any day! CNG is not corrosive by the way, it's cleaner than gasoline by far. Engines will last longer under CNG use, the only exception is that the valve seats wear out sooner. Whoever told you CNG was corrosive was lying to you hard. Gasoline is one of the most toxic fuels in use.
          Phil Cooper
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          @2 wheeled menace, valve seats on CNG vehicles shouldn't wear out sooner. That problem was solved decades ago with the switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline by using hardened valve seats. When old cylinder heads get overhauled now, installing hardened seats and valves is the norm, allowing old cars that were designed for leaded gasoline to work perfectly well on unleaded gasoline.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @archos
          Yes, you eliminate the heavy engine block & transmission. But a decent sized battery is still pretty heavy such that the EV version will end up weighing a little bit more but it is well within reason.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Judyz
        Batteries don't weigh all that much. And EVs are MUCH BETTER for home refueling than natural gas.
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