Chrysler delivered the first of 242 new 2013 Ram 2500 pickups running on compressed natural gas  (CNG) to the State of Oklahoma, in what has been the largest customer order since production of the trucks began in October.

The Ram 2500 CNG is the only OEM-built compressed natural gas-powered pickup truck in North America; competitors are modified by authorized aftermarket companies.

Gov. Fallin is leading a bipartisan coalition of 22 states seeking to use more CNG vehicles in their state fleets, partly to cut America’s dependence on foreign oil, and partly to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas and smog-producing pollutants.

The governor announced the CNG project at the Governor’s Energy Conference in 2011. Chrysler fleet chief Peter Grady said. “Through the governor’s tireless efforts to form a coalition of states, 13 Ram Truck dealers have landed contracts with 19 states to supply their fleets with the new Ram 2500 CNG pickup trucks.”

“Converting the state’s fleet to CNG will save taxpayers millions of dollars in fuel costs,” Gov. Fallin said. “The use of cleaner-burning CNG fuel is good for the environment and promotes Oklahoma-made natural gas which in turn supports the creation of more Oklahoma jobs. Our multi-state bidding process was aimed at encouraging automakers to provide states with more affordable and more functional CNG vehicles. We are very thankful for the team at Chrysler for their help and leadership throughout that process.”

The Ram 2500 CNG uses compressed natural gas as its primary fuel source, but automatically switches to gasoline when the CNG tanks are emptied. In use, the Ram CNG transitions from one fuel to the other with little discernible difference in operation.

“These are heavy-duty trucks and we have highway crews in every county in the state who will put them to work immediately,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley. “I’m grateful that ODOT has the opportunity to work with Governor Fallin and the auto industry to cut costs and improve our operations.”

CNG vehicles cost roughly half as much to fuel as equivalent gasoline powered vehicles. The Ram 2500 CNG system was fully engineered and tested by Chrysler, and was assembled at the  truck plant in Saltillo, Mexico.

Also see: CNG Hemi Ram pickups