Natural Gas for Trucking Building Momentum
Sales of trucks powered by natural gas will grow faster than the rest of the North American Market over the next several years, according to Frost & Sullivan, an industry analysis firm.
A new report predicts that North American sales of Class 6-8 LNG and CNG vehicles will rise to nearly 30,000 by 2017. That’s up from just 1,950 last year, slightly less than 1% of North American sales.
The researchers estimated that the total truck market will grow from 226,400 vehicles last year to 371,700 in 2017, and by that point nearly 8% of sales will be powered by some form of natural gas.
One of the stumbling blocks to fleets using natural gas is the higher up-front cost. The Frost & Sullivan report said while a basic Class 8 diesel tractor costs $100,000 to $150,000, but natural gas engines add $28,000 to $72,500, depending on the type of natural gas ignition technology used.
In some areas, government programs are helping out. For instance, the Ryder/San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) Natural Gas Vehicle project has allowed the company to secure lease agreements for 90 natural-gas trucks in its Southern California fleet.
The Ryder/SANBAG project is part of a joint public/private partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, San Bernardino Associated Governments, Southern California Association of Governments, and Ryder.
The $38.7 million project includes:
* 202 natural gas vehicles available for lease or rent
* three strategically located natural gas compliance maintenance shops in Rancho Dominguez, Orange and Fontana
* two fueling stations.
Even without government subsidies, analysts at Frost & Sullivan said fleets can get their money’s worth as long as natural gas prices are $1.50 less per gallon-equivalent than diesel fuel. The researchers said most fleets they have studied pay $1.65 to $1.80 per natural gas gallon equivalent, significantly lower than the $4 a gallon diesel is running at the pump these days.
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