There is high interest in both natural gas and hybrid technology, with “intense momentum” being driven by diesel fuel prices, new engine technology and an expanding fueling infrastructure.
So says Andy Douglas, Kenworth’s national sales manager for specialty markets.
As for natural gas, he sees opportunities for both compressed and liquefied gas powered trucks. The choice of which will be determined by a variety of factors, including fuel availability within operating areas and operating range.
The price for natural gas over the past several years has been consistently lower than diesel, notes Douglas.
"The fuel savings, coupled with the longer trade cycles that some vocational operators already experience with their trucks, can make a positive return on investment (ROI) attainable now, even without government incentives," he says.
Further, Douglas notes that natural gas is also a cleaner burning fuel, which provides an environmental benefit through lower greenhouse gas emissions. Since it can be produced domestically, natural gas also has the potential to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
He says industry estimates for Class 8 natural gas vehicle sales, U.S. and Canada, are: 2012 - 5,100; 2013 - 9,500; 2014 - 12,500; 2015 - 16,400; and 2016 - 18,500.
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