Ontario Trucking Association Issues Roadmap to Natural Gas

Rich Clement/Bloomberg News

To assist the government of Ontario in the design of a heavy-duty truck natural-gas program, the Ontario Trucking Association said it issued “Natural Gas as an Alternative Fuel for Canadian Truck Fleets: A Roadmap Toward Implementation.”

The report examines the two broad areas where investment dollars are required from Canadian fleets to make the transition to natural-gas vehicles: vehicle and station costs and ancillary costs, OTA said.

In June, the Ontario government released its five-year climate change action plan to help businesses and individuals transition to a low-carbon economy, it said. The plan outlines specific programs and initiatives that could total C$8.3 billion over five years and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 9.8 million tons by 2020, or 15% below 1990 levels and then a GHG emissions reduction of 37% by 2030.

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The trucking group noted that while vehicle and station costs are well understood, ancillary costs and challenges — such as management time for fleet transition evaluation, required facility upgrades, driver training and other change management expenses — are less so.

“These ancillary expenses can make up to 10% of the overall cost of switching to natural gas vehicles. Without assistance and funding in these critical areas, fleets can easily become frustrated, making a successful conversion to natural-gas vehicles less likely,” OTA President Stephen Laskowski said in a statement.

“Trucking companies are in the business of moving freight; we are not fuel transition experts. The more the government of Ontario’s program assists the industry in making a seamless transition to natural gas, the greater the likelihood the program will be successful,” Laskowski said.

OTA said it is calling on the provincial government program to fund up to C$60,000 per natural-gas vehicle to offset the cost differential of a diesel engine. Furthermore, OTA said the government should provide carriers with access to the same incentives given to fuel suppliers to build fueling stations, as carriers may wish to install and operate private stations for their own fleet.

A recent study commissioned by OTA and conducted by the Rustbelt Group estimated the vehicle and infrastructure cost for a 20-truck fleet would be $3.4 million while the ancillary costs would come in at $325,000, the association said.