(Feb. 28, 2013) – The rate of penetration of
natural gas commercial trucks into the market will depend on the price
of shale gas production, according to a report by RBC Capital
If the cost of natural gas remains cheap due to the
ongoing “boom” in U.S. shale gas production, more trucking
companies may migrate away from diesel-powered vehicles, the report
states. However, if natural gas exportation drives up costs, it may slow
down any such changeover.
“This process is in its infancy but is gaining
traction,” John Barnes, RBC’s transport and logistics
analyst, told Fleet Owner magazine. “There are currently
limitations including but not limited to: lack of natural gas
distribution at truck stops, lack of a common natural gas technology,
i.e. the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) versus liquefied natural
gas (LNG); and carriers are looking for commonality of equipment and
haven't yet been willing to operate a blended fleet of diesel fueled
vehicles beside natural gas fueled vehicles.”
Natural Gas trucks can become more prevalent if
refueling infrastructure is developed and the industry decides on a
common standard for class 8 natural gas powered engines.
RBC said that 87 percent of North American 357
executives polled predict natural gas prices will stay the same or
increase over the next two years, with 73% anticipating a price increase
of 10 per cent or more in the next five years.
Marc Harris, RBC’s co-head of global research
added that the shale gas boom is making U.S. companies think twice, with
companies in the energy, manufacturing and transportation industries are
reassessing underlying market drivers, business models and risks as a
result of the shale gas boom. On an economy-wide level, respondents
expect that shale gas will improve country competitiveness in both the
U.S. (52%) and in Canada (48%).
“We are entering a paradigm shift in the way that
businesses and national governments look at energy, particularly as it
relates to underlying market drivers, business models, risks and
economic impact stemming from the shale gas boom,” he explained.
“The coming years will be transformative for companies,
particularly those in the energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and
transportation sectors, which will, in turn, create opportunities for
both investors and corporations.”