Commercial Carrier Journal has posted an article suggesting that the relative lack of enthusiasm for natural gas in the trucking industry, once a promising advance, may be due to uncertainty over the long-term resale prices for natural gas trucks. The engines’ quality is also under continuing scrutiny – Roy Horton, Mack Trucks’ powertrain product marketing manager, is quoted as saying that the success of natural gas engines, “will be determined by performance and reliability of the engines and fuel systems.” Horton goes on to say that truck drivers themselves have “…no complaints about power and performance,” and that they’re becoming “…more comfortable with operating a natural gas vehicle.”
A lack of standardization also may be holding natural gas back from widespread use. The article claims that the vast majority of newly purchased natural gas trucks, about 90%, run on compressed natural gas (CNG), but that liquid natural gas (LNG) may become just as prevalent in the coming years. This means that, while natural gas fueling stations are certainly needed, it remains unclear which kind there will be more demand for. This stalls their construction which, in turn, keeps sales of the alternative fuel trucks themselves sluggish.
While it’s sure that natural gas will become an increasingly important fuel in trucking due to its smaller environmental impact and considerably lower cost, hesitation in the industry will likely keep its growth slow and steady.