The first quarter of 2017 saw a healthy start for North American natural gas heavy duty sales, boosted primarily from refuse fleets, transit and school bus operators, reports ACT Research.
“The best January in the past three years set up the positive year-to-date February performance,” said Steve Tam, vice-president of ACT Research. “Among truckers, it appears as though the majority of incremental volume came from those who currently have natural gas vehicles and are replacing units or increasing their number.”
According to ACT’s most recent Natural Gas & Alternative Fuels Quarterly publication, despite healthy retail sales, in comparison to the total market, natural gas Class 8 truck and bus sales remain slow when calculated as a percentage of the total market. In 2016, the natural gas share was estimated at 3% of the market due to the higher new truck sales and lower natural gas penetration.
“Given relatively low diesel fuel prices and the subsequent price narrower spread between CNG and diesel, payback times remain longer than most truckers’ trade cycles,” said Tam.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Trucking Association continues to work with Government of Ontario in the design of a heavy truck natural gas program, which aims to reduce barriers and spur natural gas technology into the market place. The province last year committed $250 million to the commercial trucking industry for technology to reduce carbon emissions from heavy trucks. One of its stated intentions is to part of the program on natural gas vehicles.