What do you do when the commodity you produce and sell is cheaper than it's been in a decade? Why, you give away trucks that run on the stuff, of course. In perhaps the most bizarre example of giving away the razor to sell the blades, Southwestern Energy
Please, sir, buy more natural gas
If you've been following natural gas prices, you can understand the logic here. Southwestern is the eighth largest producer of U.S. natural gas. And unlike diverse competitors ExxonMobil or Anadarko, its production is almost entirely natural gas. Anything to drive up demand, like vehicles that run on natural gas, is going to help Southwestern in the future.
Though the company performed well in 2011, the persistent basement-dwelling price of methane will make 2012 challenging. Like Chesapeake Energy
But back to those free trucks.
A truck in every pot
Though Southwestern only gave away 21 trucks to employees Wednesday, the hope was that the move would spur interest via word-of-mouth from the new car owners. Southwestern has also pledged to reimburse 100 employees for converting to CNG vehicles and plans to help install home-based fueling systems.
All of the trucks were made by General Motors, and included the Chevy Tahoe, Chevy Silverado, GMC Yukon, and GMC Sierra. The trucks run on compressed natural gas, or CNG. The giveaway is part of the company's bigger vision of natural gas as a fuel that includes investing in three CNG filling stations in Arkansas and converting 20% of Southwestern's fleet to CNG vehicles by the end of 2012.
The bigger picture
As Fool Brian Stoffel tells it, our oil-loving nation is making a change. Companies such as Westport Innovations
Chesapeake Energy is also getting in on the action, partnering with 3M
It seems that if the industry has any say, there will be plenty of natural gas vehicles in our future.