Natural Gas in the Trucking Industry
by Apex Capital | October 25, 2012
Reduce Fuel Cost and Deploy Cleaner Operating Fleets
Big names in the trucking industry are deciding to take the plunge and switch to natural gas for their trucks, and there are plenty of positive reasons for the change. The ability to cut costs while using a cleaner fuel source are the two most common reasons that companies cite when asked about their decision to embrace natural gas as the fuel source for their freight-hauling fleets.
Natural Gas and the Trucking Industry
Five big-name companies with fleets in the United States have weighed the benefits against the disadvantages and concluded that natural gas is the best choice. Saddle Creek Logistics Services, Premier Transportation, Hoopes Turf Farm, Lily Transportation Corp. and Lancaster Foods cite the lessened impact on the environment, reduced fuel costs and the potential to boost the job market in the United States as reasons for switching to natural gas.
Benefits of Natural Gas
Natural gas is significantly cleaner burning as compared to diesel, and fuel costs are lower. Although the costs of both natural gas and diesel are constantly fluctuating, natural gas typically costs up to 40 percent less than diesel.
The impact that clean-burning natural gas has on the environment is less harmful than the impact of diesel fuels.
The increased prevalence of extraction of liquefied natural gas from shale makes it possible for fuel to be primarily sourced from the United States and Canada. This is one of the reasons for the cheaper price of natural gas, and domestic fuel exploration provides job opportunities.
Hurdles to Switching to Natural Gas
The biggest reason for avoiding natural gas at the current time is the lack of fueling stations that offer natural gas. The availability may expand in the future, but for the time being it can be a challenge for truck drivers and trucking companies to design efficient routes with refueling in mind.
The cost of purchasing tractor trailers that are fueled by natural gas is significantly higher than the cost of a diesel trailer. The average additional cost for purchasing a trailer that uses natural gas is $90,000.
Companies that are hesitant to switch their fleets to natural gas fear taxes that may be applied to natural gas at the pump in the future. Heavy taxation of natural gas could cut into cost savings.
For now, fleets may want to start gradually converting to natural gas instead of replacing every rig at one time.