New drilling techniques and pipelines have made natural gas (NG) a significantly more competitive vehicle fuel than it was a decade ago, even as truck and bus fleet operators increasingly look for alternative fuels to fulfill their needs at lower costs and with lower emissions. The result is an expansion of the market for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses that run on natural gas. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, the total number of natural gas trucks and buses on roads worldwide will grow from 1.5 million in 2014 to 3.7 million by 2022.
“Natural gas vehicle sales are largely being driven by four key forces,” says Dave Hurst, Principal Research Analyst with Navigant Research. “These include the economic benefits, the increased availability of vehicles, the environmental benefits and the growth of refueling infrastructure.”
Although the NG vehicle market is somewhat tied to the growth of the overall economy and specific industries, makers of NG trucks and buses have found some niches that have proven stronger than the overall market, according to the report – particularly the refuse truck, day cab truck and transit bus markets. These are markets in which vehicles use a lot of fuel, and the payback periods on incremental vehicle costs can be relatively short.
The report, “Natural Gas Trucks and Buses,” analyzes the global market for trucks and buses that are in the medium-duty (10,000 to 26,000 lbs.) and heavy-duty (26,000 pounds or more) gross vehicle weight classes. It provides an analysis of related market issues and drivers, including refueling availability, competing alternative drive technology, total cost of ownership, vehicle availability and government influence. Global market forecasts for vehicle sales, vehicles on the ground and fuel used are broken out by segment, fuel type and region, and extend through 2022. The report also examines the key technologies related to natural gas storage on vehicles, as well as the competitive landscape.