Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated which day Pickens spoke with reporters. He spoke with reporters on Monday.
ORLANDO -- Powering heavy trucks with natural gas is the first step in U.S. energy independence, Texas oil and gas billionaire T. Boone Pickens told a gathering of the nation's automobile dealers.
Eventually, natural gas may become more popular in light vehicles, he said.
Since 2008, Pickens has crusaded to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by using renewable power and alternative fuels for vehicles.
“I'm not here to sell the guys today on switching over to natural gas” for light vehicles, Pickens told reporters Monday before his speech to the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here.
But once refueling stations exist across the United States for heavy vehicles, natural gas may catch on in cars and light trucks, he said. Pickens drives a Honda Civic powered by natural gas.
But the U.S. energy solution for cars and light trucks also may be electric powertrains, he said.
“We've got to make sure that we don't get off Saudi oil and end up with a Chinese battery,” he told the NADA audience.
Dealers need to hear the “Pickens Plan” because “this is an American issue,” Pickens told Automotive News . Without action, he projects that foreign countries will raise the cost of oil to $300 to $400 a barrel in 10 years. A barrel sells for about $77 now.
Pickens supports legislation in the House and Senate that would grant $65,000 tax credits for purchases of new heavy-duty and some new medium-duty trucks that run on natural gas.
“You'll have it by Memorial Day,” he told reporters. “I've cleared about eight hurdles out of 10.”