Ford will begin offering F-150 pickups with a gaseous-fuel prep option beginning with the ’14 model year, a move the auto maker says is being made to meet pent-up demand.

With the addition of the F-150, Ford will offer eight vehicles capable of running on clean-burning compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas.

The ’14 F-150 equipped with a 3.7L V-6 engine will be available this fall with a factory-installed gaseous-fuel prep package that includes hardened valves, valve seats, pistons and rings so it can operate on either CNG/LPG or gasoline through separate fuel systems.

The factory CNG/LPG engine prep runs $315 before the customer choses a Ford-qualified vehicle modifier to supply fuel tanks, lines and specialized fuel injectors. A complete up fit costs about $7,500-$9,500, depending on fuel-tank capacity, the auto maker says.

Dick Cupka, Ford commercial vehicles sustainability manager, won’t predict the take rate for the prep package, but says F-150 fleet customers have been asking for the option and he expects to see overall industry growth in vehicles equipped to run on gaseous fuels.

“We have seen a steady increase in the vehicles purchased, with our year-over-year sales doubling each of the past three years,” he tells WardsAuto. “The continued price advantage of CNG/LPG over gasoline and diesel will continue to fuel this growth.”

Ford this year is on pace to sell more than 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles, an increase of more than 25% from like-2012.

Ford currently offers gaseous-prepped engines in six commercial vehicles, including the Transit Connect van, E-Series van, F-250/350 Super Duty pickups, F-450/500 Super Duty chassis cabs, F-650 medium-duty trucks and the F53/F59 commercial strip chassis for step vans and motorhomes.

In addition to the F-150, the auto maker also will offer gas-prepped versions of the all-new Transit Connect, fullsize Transit and the Lincoln MKT Town Car limousine and livery package in the ’14 model year.

With prices of gasoline, and to a lesser extent diesel, fluctuating wildly over the past year, Cupka says CNG prices have been holding steady at about $2.11 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, and as low as $1 in some parts of the country.

CNG vehicle owners could see a 30%-75% reduction in fuel costs, he says, noting the gas-prepped vehicles will be offered to retail customers, as well.

One factor limiting gaseous-fuel growth has been infrastructure, but Cupka says the CNG industry is moving quickly to add stations at existing gasoline retailers and helping fleet customers install their own refueling capacity.

The F-150 with the gas-prep package will be capable of traveling more than 750 miles (1,207 km) between fill-ups, depending on the tank size, and will average 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km) on the highway.

Cupka says a number of fleet customers have expressed interest in the package.

“We have had interest from many different users, including fleets with defined service areas, fleets with central fuel available and areas where the CNG infrastructure is well-developed,” he says. “Many different types of vocations can benefit.”

F-150s with the gaseous-prep option will be built at Ford’s Kansas City, MO, assembly plant.

bpope@wardsauto.com