Many commercial retailers with sizeable transportation fleets are exploring the prospect of transitioning their vehicle fleets from diesel fuel to liquefied natural gas (LNG). The decision is not an easy one, since it’s necessary to balance conversion costs against potential fuel savings.
It’s also important to consider how popular this conversion is, since a critical number of companies have to decide in favor of this transition in order to make this gas alternative energy delivery system cost-effective. Here’s where this situation stands right now, together with the pros and cons of changing a fleet over from diesel to LNG:
The number of natural gas vehicles ordered nationwide between January and September of 2013 is 70% larger than the number ordered during the same ninemonth period in 2012. Every day seems to bring news of another large company that has decided to make the leap.
One major home improvement retailer that has already converted part of its nationwide fleet said, “Our goal is to replace all of our diesel-powered dedicated fleets with natural gas trucks by the end of 2017.”
Texas oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens created a company called Clean Energy (CLNE) 14 years ago because of his faith in “America’s natural gas highway,” banking on what he feels is a sure thing financially. CLNE already has partnerships with some giant companies with substantive transportation assets, including Frito Lay, Procter & Gamble, Ryder, and United Parcel Service.
Along with the benefits, there are also challenges to making the switch:
The Green Truck Association says that natural gas “may well be the most important alternative fuel to the transportation industry.” Although there are a range of excellent reasons for choosing natural gas, including cleaner emissions and local production, the moving force behind real change is always economic. After closely balancing the pros and cons, Scott Perry, a vice president at Ryder, says, “The economics favoring natural gas are overwhelming.”