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November 30, 2012 9:30 AM, EST
Retrofits Contingent on Lower Natural Gas Prices, Execs Say

ARLINGTON, Va. — Executives of companies that manufacture and install natural-gas conversion systems in existing heavy trucks said that their future business was reliant on natural gas prices staying cheaper than diesel fuel.

“If that price difference goes away, we don’t have a product,” said Scott Myers, president and CEO of EcoDual. “No doubt about it.”

Myers said that the $30,000 cost to purchase a dual-conversion system that burns natural gas fuel 85% of the time can be paid back within a year.

When natural gas runs out, the unit automatically converts to burning diesel. The system is paid back because it burns nearly all natural gas, which is cheaper than diesel, he said.

Myers spoke at a Thursday afternoon session, “Converting Your Diesel Truck to Natural Gas: Retrofit Options,” at American Trucking Associations’ Summit on Natural Gas in Trucking here.

Lyle Jensen, CEO of American Power Group, said that in addition to 15% to 30% fuel-cost savings, natural-gas conversion systems have up to a 15-year life cycle, allowing fleets to install the same system in a second truck after the original truck is retired.

“I realize we probably have more skeptics than believers at this point in time,” Jensen said. “But I think in a year or two from now you’ll see that completely change.”