Just outside of Washington D.C. more than 550 people gathered for the two day conference about the future of natural gas usage by the American trucking industry. Arkansas’ trucking and fleet operations, as well as their economy, may be impacted by the messages delivered at the conference.
U.S. Rep. Lee Terry plans to introduce and updated version of the Natural Gas Act, a bill for removing government barriers to the private sector’s natural gas use expansion. The original bill failed to pass during this last Congress, despite being the strong bipartisan support that it received.
The world is looking in to the possibilities of using compressed natural gas (CNG) rather than the current diesel fuel, which was a point in the ATA Summit on Natural Gas in Trucking. The ATA forum was dedicated to exploring the full range of issues related to the use of natural gas in the trucking industry, with topics including current and potential technology from truck manufacturers, and recent trucking experiences with natural gas.
Currently, not enough natural gas fueling stations are available along the nation’s highways and interstates, and natural gas trucks are also more expensive to manufacture than trucks that use diesel. Overcoming these hurdles will help the U.S. become and energy independent nation and help towards moving away from oil consumption.
Vehicles running on CNG cost roughly $3,500 more than other gas powered vehicles, but the cost for the CNG itself is anywhere from 15% to 40% less than normal gasoline. CNG also has a higher octane rating, which brings stronger and cleaner engine performance, along with higher MPG. Vehicles powered by CNG also need less frequent oil changes due to the cleaner burning fuel.
Rapid Movement for Natural Gas
The market for vehicles powered by CNG is moving forward at a rapid pace, with the only limiting factor being how quickly manufacturers could push the move for CNG in an economically- smart manner for their companies.
Trucks powered by CNG or LNG (liquid natural gas) are expected to be 50% of the market by 2050, and up to 15% of the market in the next 4 years.
The main driving force behind the move to natural gas is the savings. Trucks running on diesel fuel are paying nearly $2 per gallon more than the cost for the diesel gas equivalent (DGE) of natural gas. With the lower cost and better MPG it’s no wonder trucking companies are making the move!
With savings like this the return on investing could be calculated to break even in months, rather than years. Many manufacturers, such as Volvo, Navistar, and Kenworth will be rolling out greater displacement natural gas engines in 2014 and 2015 that will allow trucks powered by NCG to carry heavier and longer loads than what is available now.