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The LNG revolution is nigh

Jason Cannon April 25, 2013

One of the most consistently debated topics in heavy-duty trucking is when the natural gas revolution will finally climb from its bunker and take the hill.

Andrew Littlefair, CEO of Clean Energy Fuels, says go ahead and grab your bayonets.

“It is happening now,” he said while serving as a special Executive Decision guest on Jim Cramer’s Mad Money program Wednesday in recognition of Green Week.

“All the major equipment manufacturers that make engines have announced product,” he adds. “That’s different than it was a few years ago. You have big significant companies like GE and Shell now saying they want to get into the business.”

I’m a semi-regular watcher of Cramer’s Mad Money. You know Jim Cramer. He’s the “BOOYA!” screaming maniac that tells you where to park your money.

It’s like having an 8 year old on a sugar high give you investment advice.

This week, Cramer has dedicated his show to green energy and companies that support the effort. To his credit, Cramer’s been a proponent of natural gas in trucking for a while, and industry players are finally beginning to jump on the “BOOYA!” bandwagon.

One of the country’s largest carriers this week made a major commitment to jump into the LNG pool.

“UPS announced plans to add seven times as many LNG trucks as they had a year ago,” he said of the carriers intent to add 700 LNG trucks and fueling stations.

Littlefair credits Cummins Westport for blazing the trail, and finally hitting the sweet spot in the market that LNG loyalists have been clamoring for.

“That 12 liter engine,” he says. “We really didn’t have the right engine for America’s truckers, and now we do…And next year, you’re going to have a 13 liter by Volvo.”

A quality engine, Littlefair says, will do as much to drive the market toward natural gas as the potential for fuel savings.

“Five years ago, we didn’t have hardly any natural gas refuse trucks,” he says. “In 2008, a good engine came out, and this year 63 percent of all the new refuse trucks being purchased are natural gas. Another 35 percent of all new buses are natural gas.”

Littlefair expects many of heavy-duty trucking’s major players to initiate pilot programs with natural gas trucks with goals of feeling out the fuel and associated equipment without having to make a large investment in the experiment.

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Jason Cannon is Online Managing Editor for Truck Parts & Service.

You can follow me on twitter at @By_Jason_Cannon

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