Will Your Truck in the Future Be Powered by Natural Gas?
Is Gas In Our Future?
While electric vehicles get a lot of attention currently, there is another alternative fuel that is among the most abundant and clean burning available. Natural gas is considerably less costly than diesel and expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future. It not only creates near-zero emissions and thereby reduces air pollution, but natural gas engines also create much less noise pollution by operating significantly quieter than traditional diesel engines. For these reasons and more, an ever increasing number of corporate fleets are making the switch to natural gas.
Even with oil prices dropping, the average price for diesel is $3.50 a gallon. When your livelihood relies on a truck that averages somewhere between 4 and 8 mpg, that is far from a bargain. Erik Neandross is the CEO of Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA). They are a leading transportation & energy consulting firm. Neandross says natural gas currently cost between $1.50 and $1.80 per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) delivered. That price includes all necessary taxes. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that a single semi will average 45,000 miles each year. Long-haul operators average closer to 100,000 miles each year. Savings of $1.50 to $2.00 per gallon can translate to significant savings for fleets and individuals.
Some major hurdles
Fueling stations and qualified mechanics for natural-gas vehicles are sparse and not yet sufficient to support distance trucking. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) does not get as many miles per gallon as diesel. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is even less efficient. That would require trucks carry more fuel and create possible weight concerns. Drivers also needs special training on how to fuel natural-gas trucks. These factors prevent natural gas from being a practical substitute for diesel in the near future.
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