May 7, 2014 9:55 AM, EDT
Truck Makers Cite Progress in LNG, CNG Sales
Michael G. Malloy/TT

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Truck manufacturers at ACT Expo generally agreed with their projections from a year ago that the natural-gas, heavy-duty truck market would reach 10% by 2020.

“I think as more data begins to materialize, the comfort level [with natural gas] increases,” said Robert Carrick, manager of natural-gas sales for Freightliner Trucks.

He said here on a May 6 ACT Expo heavy-duty panel that shippers’ push to use more alternative fuels “is going to accelerate the market adoption of natural gas.”

“What we’re trying to communicate to our customers [about natural gas] is don’t wait,” said Andrew Douglas, national sales manager for Kenworth Truck Co.

But while trucks’ fuel mileage generally is similar to diesel in the “high 5s to low 6s” mpg, there is about a 10% fuel degradation penalty in using spark-ignited nat-gas engines, Douglas said.

“I think we’ve seen enough feedback on the [Cummins Westport] natural-gas engine and enough positive results indicating that it has been very well-accepted,” said Charles Cook, marketing manager of vocational products for Peterbilt Motors Co.

Panelists’ percentage projections for CNG versus LNG varied, with some putting it at near 50-50 by 2020. Others, including Freightliner’s Carrick, projected that CNG would be a higher percentage in its use.

“Once [fleets’] homework is done, it looks like the longhaul is going to be a good use for LNG,” said Frank Bio, Volvo Trucks’ director of sales development for alternate fuels, who noted Volvo’s release of its 13-liter nat-gas engine is scheduled for late 2015.

Roy Horton, powertrain product marketing manager for Mack Trucks, told Transport Topics after the session that Mack’s natural-gas sales “have met our expectations and then some. . . . Having said that, it’s still a niche product in the marketplace.”

For more information, see the May 12 issue of Transport Topics.