U.S. and Canadian natural gas Class 8 truck retail sales were down 23% year-to-date through November 2018, according to a quarterly report from ACT Research.
Natural gas truck sales had risen 13% in 2017, but through November 2018, sales were down 700 units compared to the same period in the year before. This 23% decline represents a softening in the market as lower diesel prices made natural gas a less appeasing option for fleets that might have switched. Natural gas is also seeing more competition from other alternative powertrains, with multiple battery-electric truck options likely to launch within the next year or two.
“With the narrowed fuel price spread between diesel and natural gas, it really isn’t surprising that sales of natural gas units softened,” said Ken Vieth, senior partner and GM at ACT Research. “That said, it is important to remember that the conversion of a fleet from diesel to natural gas doesn’t rest entirely on the savings of fuel.”
Natural gas vehicle purchases continue to be dominated by refuse fleets, transit and school bus operators.
“Natural gas offers more consistent fuel pricing and is one way fleets can meet more stringent environmental requirements, particularly where renewable natural gas is available,” said Vieth. “Transportation power is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition. All viable commercial vehicle power alternatives, from diesel and natural gas to electric of all kinds, must now be considered to accurately measure potential cost savings, while meeting future emissions.”