Diesel Remains Fuel of Choice for Heavy-Duty Trucks, but Alternative Fuel Offerings Continue to Grow

The latest NA On-Highway Engine OUTLOOK published by ACT Research and Rhein Associates highlights the continued dominance of diesel, and growing alternative fuel options for some applications.

ACT Research

The news media has been active presenting new, electric vehicle product offerings for light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles (CVs) and buses. These headlines could easily lead one to believe the industry is on the verge of going electric, but timing, application, use/applicability and costs remain big question marks. The latest "NA On-Highway Engine OUTLOOK" published by ACT Research and Rhein Associates highlights this alt fuel activity for CV GVWs 5-8, including 5-year forecasts of engines volumes and product trends. The engine outlook ties to the detailed NA CV vehicle forecasts published monthly by ACT in the NA OUTLOOK. 

Some of the media coverage in the past three months include:

  • Waste heat recovery and engine efficiency improvements of SuperTrucks I and II.
  • Mack Trucks’ introduction of MP 8HE 13L and HE+ fuel-efficiency package
  • EPA announcement of Cummins’ voluntary recall of MY 2010-2015 MD and HDT engines
  • The addition of EDI to Cummins’ portfolio
  • Volvo’s VNL 3200 day cab now being available with CWI ISX12N Near-Zero NG engine
  • The expansion of Kenworth’s offerings of T680, T880 and T880S
  • BYD North America’s delivery of its battery-electric refuse hauler to Salt Lake County, UT
  • Daimler Trucks’ announcement of its ENG extension across all Daimler brands and divisions
  • The continuation of Nikola’s move toward production

One of the discussions in the engine outlook report is the changing regulatory environment. Tom Rhein, President of Rhein Associates, comments, “This changing regulatory feature makes it more difficult and expensive to plan effectively.” Rhein notes, “We’re paying close attention to EPA regulations as well as those in California.”

He explaines, “Three of the regulations we discussed in this quarter’s issue of the engine outlook are the EPA’s recent decision on glider kits, their proposed rule regarding renewable fuel standards, including biomass-based diesel volume standards, and the recently released notice by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the potential relaxation of existing GHG emission and CAFE fuel economy standards.”

Further, Ken Vieth, General Manager of ACT Research, notes, “Diesel power is under attack for long-term use in on-highway commercial vehicles, but as alternative power is being developed, tested, and refined, diesel engines are also undergoing transition, becoming more fuel efficient. Where diesel has been the king of commercial vehicle fuels for nearly a century, it seems we are entering a period where fuel (or power) may no longer be a one-size-fits-all solution, but will become more application and geography specific.”