According to Navigant and Market Research, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is driving medium/heavy fleet sales, and the future looks to be quite bright for those commercial operating segments. Statistics provided by both research groups suggest an aggregated 60% growth pattern between now and 2035, with specific movement jumping from 4.1 million to 7.3 million units when applied across both vehicle segments.
The spike is being generally driven by use patterns that currently depend on commercial light oil-based gasoline and/or diesel blends. According to Navigant, “The MHDV markets’ dependency on oil has pushed governments to examine programs that will speed the adoption of alternative fuel technologies. Less expensive alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, such as natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and electricity are beginning to make inroads as fleet managers can see a return on investment in as few as three years given the right circumstances. Natural gas has significant advantage over most alternative fuels,” the group concluded.
Currently DOT and EPA regulations are driving the cost of traditional fuels higher, since additional mileage and emissions have been tightened during the last 6 years. The most obvious changes involve California’s call for an overall 20% reduction in fuel consumption for over the road or heavy transportation utilizing semi-truck and other vehicles, along with specific requirements being levied on medium-sized commercial vehicles of up to 15%, and urban utility vehicles like trash and other municipal transit vehicles of up to 10%.
Along with the downward pressure caused by regulatory issues, commercial CNG infrastructure development has continued to expand as economies-of-scale price off-sets begin to apply, particularly in states other than California; these include new utility growth in, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida. All in all then, the application of compressed natural gas, looks to be running in the fast lane on the current short list of preferable fuels that offer both environmentally sound and cost sensitive operation.