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Fleets executives talk NG cost of ownership

Jason Cannon June 27, 2013

“We’ve got a lot to learn from the tank OEMs,” he says. “It’s one of the biggest expenses on the truck, and it’s one that requires a new understanding.”

Perry says Ryder’s 170-truck natural gas fleet average 4,000 to 6,000 miles per month and has already logged 20 million miles.

While the cost of the truck can be significantly higher than its diesel counterpart, Perry said that’s not translated to a significant difference on the balance sheet.

“There’s little higher maintenance burden of about a 1.5 cents per mile more,” he says when compared to diesel.

Overall, Shefchik says his fleet’s conversion to CNG has lead to considerable savings – a diesel gallon equivalent cost of $2.33 compared to $3.93 to diesel at the pump.

“When your truck is using 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of fuel annually, even a 20 or 30 cent per gallon savings is a lot,” he says, adding that there is also a comfort in knowing the price of natural gas isn’t tied to crude oil and is much less volatile. “I can count on (price) to be very stable.”

As far as operating costs, Shefchik says a CNG unit can cost $185,000 on the lot compared to a $125,000 similarly spec’d diesel unit.

Shefchick estimated residual value of a truck at the end of its 7 year, 770,000 mile life cycle to be approximately $30,000 – that’s $10,000 higher than a diesel unit.

He estimates the truck to be worth $5,000 in scrap and the tanks to be worth $25,000 – an additional $5,000 more than an entire diesel unit with comparable age and miles.

Shefchik also estimated a fuel cost savings of .105 per mile when compared to diesel, even with CNG’s lower fuel economy (5.8 CNG compared to 7.5 diesel).

With a payback expectation of roughly four years, Shefnick says the value is there, citing a .607 cents cost per mile to operate a CNG truck compared to diesel’s .637 cents.

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