U.S. and Canadian natural gas heavy-duty retail sales had a healthy start to 2017, boosted mostly from refuse fleets, transit, and school bus operators, according to the most recent Natural Gas & Alternative Fuels Quarterly publication released by ACT Research. “The best January in the past 3 years set up the positive year-to-date February performance,” says Steve Tam, ACT’s Vice President. He continues, “Among truckers, it appears as though the majority of incremental volume came from those who currently have natural gas vehicles and are replacing units or increasing their number.”
However, in comparison to the total market, natural gas Class 8 truck and bus sales remain slow when calculated as a percentage of the total market. For 2016, the natural gas share was estimated at 3% due to the higher new truck sales and lower natural gas penetration. “Given relatively low diesel fuel prices and the subsequent price narrower spread between CNG and diesel, payback times remain longer than most truckers’ trade cycles,” notes Tam.
With the increasing discussion about electricity, particularly as a transportation fuel, ACT has expanded the alternative fuels section in the latest release, titled Electric & Hybrid Electric Vehicles 101. “With the recent news coverage of Nikola Motor Company, Tesla, Toyota, and others, it is important to keep a finger on the pulse of the entire alternative fuels market,” says Tam. “Whether it is natural gas or hybrid electric, companies need to be well informed of the market options when considering alternatives for their current vehicles.”