Over the past several years, Ryder has made significant investments in natural gas-powered vehicles.
Since 2010, Ryder has acquired and deployed more than 250 CNG and LNG heavy duty tractors in select markets in Southern California, Arizona and Michigan.
It has entered into a large-scale public-private partnership to make heavy duty natural gas vehicles available for lease and rental in Southern California, and develop the supporting fueling and maintenance infrastructure.
Now, Ryder is getting ready to roll out medium duty natural gas-powered vehicles. The outsourced fleet provider is working with Navistar, Greenkraft - a manufacturer and distributor of automotive products - and Isuzu to offer natural-gas powered straight trucks and city vans for lease and rental.
As fleets look for ways to defray the high cost of diesel, the interest in alternative fuels has continued to grow, say Ryder officials. On average, the gallon equivalent of CNG or LNG tends to cost 30 percent to 50 percent less than diesel fuel.
With the added benefit of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, natural gas is a way for companies not only to reduce their transportation costs, but also to help meet their sustainability and carbon footprint reduction goals, they add.
Ryder's new medium duty vehicles, which will range in gross vehicle weight from 14,500 to 33,000 pounds, have been designed for a metro application across a variety of configurations. These vehicles will use dedicated fuel engine technology and will be 100 percent powered by natural gas with spark ignition.
Unlike heavy duty natural gas vehicles, which require fueling stations with combination commercial vehicle access, these lighter vehicles will be able to access much of the existing consumer retail CNG fueling infrastructure across the country, which will increase their usability in a greater number of markets, note the officials.
To make the vehicles more competitive for customers, Ryder will continue to seek state incentives for natural gas development, the company officials say. By partnering with local and state government entities that promote cleaner air, Ryder is able to acquire the vehicles at more competitive prices and pass these savings onto its lease and rental customers.
For its medium duty natural gas vehicles, Ryder will also offer its Flex-to-Green lease program, which makes it easier for companies to incorporate alternative fuel vehicles into their fleets. When companies sign a three-year Flex-to-Green lease on a traditional diesel vehicle, they can switch out that diesel vehicle after only one year for a comparable alternative fuel vehicle without incurring any penalties.
The Flex-to-Green lease was designed to give fleets the option of incorporating alternative fuel vehicles into their current fleet plans in anticipation of future infrastructure and natural gas vehicle development, explain Ryder officials.