Investments in natural gas trucks to show major growth

As more trucking firms learn the benefits of natural gas vehicles, investments will continue to grow in fleets that can run completely on the alternative fueling option. More fleet managers struggle with the high costs of diesel costs, and by pairing route optimization software with natural gas trucks, companies can not only save money, but also reduce their carbon footprints.

Sales of natural gas vehicles will grow dramatically

According to recent data from Pike Research (now Navigant Research), more than 930,000 of natural gas trucks will be sold worldwide from 2012 to 2019. Firms will have to choose between compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas as the right solution for their company. Either way, fleets will be able to cut down their budgets for gas, as well as lessen their environmental impact.

"NG vehicles emit substantially lower levels of GHGs, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxide than either gasoline- or diesel-powered trucks and buses," said David Hurst, senior research analyst at Pike Research.

CNG vehicles are better suited for firms that have trucks that travel between 150 to 300 miles on their routes, while LNG vehicles are built for longer-range distances of over 400 miles. CNG trucks are clearly more popular throughout the world, with the survey finding there are 20,233 CNG refueling stations, compared to only 117 places to refuel LNG vehicles. Deploying CNG or LNG fleets allows firms to save large sums of money and see a return on their investment in as little as two years, in some instances.

"What's more, compared to diesel engines, natural gas provides a financial benefit," said Hurst. "In most cases, the higher incremental cost of an NG vehicle is typically recovered, due to lower fuel costs, within two to seven years."

Shell pouring investments into LNG

While LNG is seen as less popular than CNG, the report revealed about 45 percent of the LNG refueling stations are located in the United States, demonstrating that fleets across the country are ready to embrace LNG. A recent article for Forbes outlined how Shell is looking to accommodate larger trucking fleets and meet the growing demand for a larger infrastructure of LNG.

"As global demand for transportation fuel increases, including LNG, Shell is well positioned to meet this demand," Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Company, told the news source. "LNG will be a welcome addition to Shell's portfolio of quality transportation fuels."

Demand for NG continuing to grow

With the Pike Research showing that many trucking fleets are going to be purchasing NG vehicles with the next decade, Shell is looking to make the moves that will put them in a position to supply the gas for these vehicles, and the company is aware that the demand is going to increase dramatically. The news source reported Shell "expects the global demand for LNG to double to 400 million tons by 2020 and to potentially as much as 500 million tons by 2025." Understanding the savings opportunity that NG presents for fleet owners will be a driving factor in whether or not firms will invest in such vehicles. Right now, all signs suggest NG fleets is a good idea.

"Over the life of the truck, we are expecting to save an estimated $100,000 on fuel alone – that's per truck," Jay McDonald, division supervisor for Weld County's Department of Public Works, told the Northern Colorado Gazette, touting the success he has experienced with LNG trucks. "Right now, it is costing us 20 percent less per mile to run our LNG trucks versus our diesel trucks."