Sep 122011
 

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.

Read the full Story At Trucking Info

Sep 082011
 

Natural gas-powered Ford taxis start rolling in Orange County

An Orange County taxi company became the first cab business in California to put new compressed natural gas-powered Ford Transit Connect Taxis into service.

California Yellow Cab of Orange County started using the first 10 of 50 Transit Connect Taxis it plans to put into service by 2012.

Yellow Cab of Anaheim also has ordered 69 of the vehicles. That means that soon more than 100 of the distinct, boxy Transit Connects will be plying Orange County streets. The CNG-powered Ford-built taxis are already in use in Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and St. Louis. They cost about $35,000.

The taxis are based on the gasoline-powered version of the Transit Connect, a small van popular as a delivery or commercial vehicle. Dallas-based BAF Technologies is retrofitting the taxis as natural gas vehicles certified by the California Air Resources Board.

The Air Resources Board encourages the use of natural gas-powered vehicles because they are less polluting than autos with standard gasoline engines.

Taxi companies and other businesses like them because natural gas costs less than gasoline.

“We have a situation here in Orange County where the per gallon equivalent of CNG is almost $2 less than the price of a gallon of traditional fuel. Given that, along with the increased infrastructure support, it’s not hard to see why it makes sense for us to go with the CNG-powered Transit Connect Taxi,” said Tim Conlon, president and general manager of California Yellow Cab.

Orange County has 30 compressed natural gas filling stations.

“Our goal is to convert our entire fleet to alternative fuels,” Conlon said.

Read the full Story At Los Angeles Times