OEs talk natural gas at ACT Expo
“There’s a collaborative effort on service and support in working with dealers, even if they’ve never sold (an LNG truck), because that truck may never go back to the dealership where it was purchased.”
Once that training is implemented, Arthurs says the remaining hurdles in servicing the engines are small.
“It’s not a big step to service the engine,” he says.
Another challenge for natural gas is simply keeping pace with the fuel it is trying to replace.
“Natural gas has to close the gap in fuel efficiency and payback,” Arthus says.
“Our customers are looking for a two year payback,” Daniels adds.
And, Ed Saxman, product manager for alternative fuels for Volvo Trucks North America, added a little perspective as LNG begins to emerge as “the little fuel that could.”
“Diesel will remain the mainstay for many years to come,” Saxman says.
Even with some hills still to climb, Douglas says LNG has paid its dues and is beginning to reap the benefits.
“It’s a mature market,” he says, estimating that between 3 and 5 percent of all Kenworth’s new builds this year will be natural gas units. “Customers who tested (LNG) trucks several years ago are now coming back in for their third, fourth trucks.”
Bill Kahn, manager of advanced concepts for Peterbilt, agrees.
“It’s all about people taking a look at their operations and spec’ing the right engines for their needs,” he says, noting Peterbilt has logged approximately 2,000 orders for natural gas units this year. “And 30 percent of those are the (Cummins Westport 12 Liter).”