It looks like local companies are slowly switching to (or adding) natural gas trucks. for example, Waste Management said that over the next 5 years, 80% of their purchases will be fueled by natural gas. They estimate that each new truck will save them $27,000/year or more in fuel cost. Shale Gas has been credited with a 45% decline in the price of natural gas, which means that a gallon of diesel can costs more than twice as much as CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), on a diesel-gallon-equivalent basis.
Both UPS and AT&T are buying the CNG vehicles and Ryder Systems is renting out natural gas trucks in California and is expanding the program to Michigan and Arizona.
CNG vehicles sales have grown about 42% a year for the last 10 years in the Asia-Pacific regions, whereas the US ranks 14th with about 112,000 natural gas vehicles (less than 0.1% of vehicles.
In a recent pole of Executives, about a third said they were researching it for their own companies. However, 54% said current infrastructure is inadequate and 23% worried about the higher cost of the trucks, which is about $30,000 more for each truck.
With 3.2 million large trucks on U.S. roads burning some 25 billion gallons of diesel annually; plus another 7 million single-unit trucks, like UPS and FedEx burning another 10 billion gallons of diesel, there is a lot to be saved because of the low prices of CNG. Not to mention the added value of much lower emissions and quieter running engines.
On the flip side, many fleet operators, particularly long-haul truckers, are concerned about the scarcity of refueling stations, especially considering that CNG is about 25% as dense and LNG is 60% as dense, which mean that trucks need more (or larger) tanks to go as far, or they must refuel more often. Where are they going to fuel?
I would say that long haulers should not be to quick to jump into CNG trucks, but they might consider dual fuel trucks, at least until a more supportive infrastructure is available. Admin