Truckinginfo reports that trucking fleets in the US are looking more favourably at natural gas as a viable transportation fuel. A recent survey of 100 fleet managers by Frost & Sullivan found that over half are interested in natural gas as a substitute for diesel, up from 22% in 2010. A third of those surveyed showed no interest in natural gas.

From another trucking fleet survey we learn from Seeking Alpha that liquified natural gas (LNG) vehicles are not taking off in North America (in spite of high gasoline and diesel prices) because of the lack of ubiquitous refueling infrastructure. PLS Logistics interviewed owners, executives, and presidents of fleet carriers and found the primary obstacle to purchasing LNG vehicles was the lack of infrastructure in place and the up-front costs involved in creating this infrastructure. In addition, and a surprising finding, over a quarter of respondents believe there is no difference in cost between LNG and diesel. “This misconception may well be the biggest psychological barrier to entry for LNG vehicles.” These findings suggest that natural gas has a limited future as a transportation fuel unless it can overcome the infrastructure and price information barriers. The author astutely notes: “We are stuck in a chicken and egg situation. Without the infrastructure in place, carriers are unwilling to invest in LNG vehicles, while without demand for filling stations there is little impetus to develop the infrastructure.”  This same chicken and egg situation faces electric cars as well but, as regular readers of Earth’s Energy know. governments around the world at all levels are spending large amounts of money putting EV charging stations in both cities and on highway corridors. In addition, the private sector is adding its own allotment of charging stations, often with government subsidies.  With natural gas, there is no or very limited government involvement and it is largely up to the trucking industry to create a nationwide infrastructure.  Not surprisingly, this will take a long time to be completed, if it is completed at all.

The Houston Business Journal says that North American energy companies are running their drilling rigs on natural gas. North American oil and gas companies are converting their drilling rigs to LNG to avoid high diesel prices. The article refers to US-based Apache and Canadian based Encana as two companies that have converted rigs already and intend to convert more.

Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, has called for a natural gas vehicle roundtable to discuss opportunities to expand the demand and supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) in his state.  WSAW says state officials will hold at least four public information sessions around the state to provide information to businesses and citizens about CNG.

US truck leasing company, Ryder, has leased 250 natural gas trucks to three US states according to MarketWatch. In the past year Ryder has leased trucks to fleets in California, Arizona and Michigan and is looking at expanding the offering into Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. As a vehicle fuel, CNG has been selling for the equivalent of just over $2 a gallon, compared with about $4.15 for diesel. Ryder is finding its demand is centered in those states that have a natural gas refueling infrastructure already in place.

US rental car company, Hertz, announced it will be renting CNG vehicles at the airport in Oklahoma City reports Digital Journal. Next month the company will start to rent eight CNG Honda Civics and two CNG GMC Yukons. Oklahoma City is serving as a pilot program for Hertz’s CNG airport rentals program. There are 70 existing or planned CNG public refueling stations in the state. MyPerfectAutomobile informs us that every Hertz CNG car will have a GPS that will enable drivers to easily locate those CNG stations. See Hertz’s CNG Surprise.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority in Aspen, Colorado will be introducing a new type of bus service in that state in the fall of 2013 that will include 18 buses running on compressed natural gas reports the Aspen Times.

The Times of India say that 17,787 rickshaws in the city of Pune have switched over to CNG. Pune is the 8th largest metropolitan area in India. The city has 45,000 rickshaws of which 39% run on compressed natural gas and another 18% run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). This makes for 57% of the city’s rickshaws running on natural gas.

Forbes writes about natural gas vehicles in China. Since 1999 the country has had an official policy to move away from gasoline and diesel and promote the use of cleaner fuels in cities. Since then city governments have adopted policies to encourage the industrialization of CNG passenger cars, LNG heavy-duty trucks and engines, LPG engines, and direct-injection LNG engines. In addition they have built natural gas refueling stations. The focus has been on introducing natural gas into public transportation. At the end of 2010, more than 80 cities across China had refueling stations totaling more than 1,000. During the course of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, it is projected that an additional 1,000 stations will be constructed. Additionally, municipal governments have been working with automobile companies and industry research institutions to accelerate the development of new technologies. CNG/LNG vehicles have already been incorporated into bus and taxi fleets in 100 cities across the country. In Chongqing, 85%t of taxis and 92% of buses are using an LNG engine. In Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an, Xinjiang and Hebei, these percentages are above 90%. In 2010, more than 60 natural gas vehicle manufacturers produced over 150,000 natural gas vehicles, and approximately 20 engine manufacturers had the capacity to produce 1.0 million natural gas engines annually. Many of these vehicles are used as city taxis. Of the country’s 1.1 million taxis, half have natural gas engines. According to the country’s national plan, China’s natural gas vehicle ownership will be 1.0 million in 2012, 1.5 million in 2015 and 3.0 million in 2020. See also CNG’s Surprising New Market at MyPerfectAutomobile.

The Dominican Republic is introducing an ad campaign to promote the use of natural gas for public and private transportation as the Caribbean nation seeks to avoid high crude oil prices says Dominican Today.


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1 Comment on Natural Gas Vehicle News

  1. Good to see that companies are switching to natural gas vehicles! It can save them money and really reduce their emissions – which is good for everyone!