Biodiesel Drives the Work Truck Industry

The 2019 NTEA Fleet Purchasing Outlook reveals continued strong demand for biodiesel in diesel trucks says the National Biodiesel Board.

National Biodiesel Board (NBB)

As the future of the transportation industry continues to evolve, one thing remains the same – work still needs to get done, and multiple studies show that diesel engines will continue to be the industry’s preferred workhorses for many years to come. However, new research revealed by NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry confirms that fleets across the country are increasingly relying on the power and performance of biodiesel, America’s Advanced Biofuel, to get the job done in their existing and new diesel vehicles. For the third time in 4 years, surveyed fleets named biodiesel as their top alternative fuel choice both for current use and future interest. 

Each year, NTEA conducts a comprehensive Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey to better understand the commercial vehicle landscape, including interest levels for advanced truck technologies and alternative fuels. Insights from NTEA’s Fleet Purchasing Outlook, provided by fleet professionals across the United States and Canada, give the entire work truck industry perspective on anticipated purchasing intent and areas of greatest interest to fleet managers. The new survey results for 2019 were announced at The Work Truck Show held in conjunction with Green Truck Summit and Fleet Technical Congress in Indianapolis. They reflect positive trends for the use of biodiesel blends in the diesel vehicle technology of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

“We anticipate a continuation of strong purchasing activity in 2019,” said George Survant, NTEA Senior Director of Fleet Relations. “The fleet community’s interest in vehicle technology and productivity is front and center in our latest edition of the Fleet Purchasing Outlook.”

Specifically, the 2019 NTEA Fleet Purchasing Outlook revealed that the majority of fleet survey respondents – 76% – anticipate maintaining or increasing use of diesel engine-powered trucks in their fleets, and more than 33% of survey respondents acknowledged currently operating alternative fueled trucks in their fleets. Survey participants named biodiesel as their top alternative fuel choice at 16%. Additionally, biodiesel was named as their top choice for future interest at 14%. NTEA’s additional anecdotal evidence suggests that though alternative fuel interest may ebb and flow along with fluctuating oil prices, the trend will likely turn upward in the long run. It is highly likely that clean energy solutions will remain relevant due to oil price instability. The National Biodiesel Board further credits the nation’s growing interest in reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as indicators for future growth in the use of biodiesel.

As biodiesel blends can be used in any diesel engine without modification according to manufacturers’ recommendations, they offer fleets an easy and cost-effective way to reduce their carbon footprint in their existing diesel vehicle fleet. Customers from coast to coast have used B20 (a blend of 20% biodiesel with 80% ultra-low sulfur diesel) successfully in virtually every make and model diesel engine, and the vast majority of new diesel engines now have full OEM support for B20 meeting today’s ASTM specifications. Compared to fossil fuels like petrodiesel, B20 reduces carbon by 16% on average, with B100 reducing carbon by 80%.

Proactive fleets like the Chicago Park District have realized significant benefits from using biodiesel blends in their operations. With one of the highest asthma rates in the country, Chicago was looking for an effective and sustainable way to reduce harmful vehicle emissions as well as address its carbon reduction goals. They found the answer in biodiesel. The Chicago Park District began using biodiesel blends in 2013 in its fleet of more than 250 diesel vehicles and now successfully uses blends between B10 – B50 year-round.

“Since we began our biodiesel program, the health impacts of Chicago’s park maintenance operations have been greatly improved for park visitors and staff,” said Pete Probst, of Indigenous Energy, who works as a contractor for the Chicago Park District Biodiesel Program. “The annual reductions in our CO2 emissions by using biodiesel are equivalent to planting over 1,709 trees per year, and biodiesel truly offers us a ‘low-hanging fruit’ option that has been both easy to implement and cost-effective.”

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) featured the Chicago Park District’s biodiesel fleet success story along with many others this week at the combined events of the 2019 NTEA’s Work Truck Show, Green Truck Summit, and Fleet Technical Congress at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Along with presenting an educational session on the Future of Diesel Technology and Biodiesel for Work Trucks, NBB partnered with Isuzu Commercial Truck of America to power its 2019 Isuzu FTR medium-duty truck with B20 biodiesel for The Work Truck Show Ride-and-Drive event. Also on display in the NBB booth this year is Cummins’ new crated aftermarket diesel engine offering – the R2.8 Turbo Diesel – repowering a 1972 Jeep Commando that was brought back to new life by NBB. This is the first time a major diesel engine manufacturer has offered a crated common rail diesel engine direct to consumers as a retrofit option. Cummins supports the use of B20 biodiesel blends in all its diesel engines, including the new R2.8, giving consumers the option of using biodiesel in practically any vehicle they choose.