Heavy Duty Trucking

SEP 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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He'll be looking for improved aerody- namics and other fuel-saving features we're getting today with diesels, as well as natural gas engines with up to 475 horsepower and 1,750 pounds-feet of torque. While natural gas seems to have al- most everything going for it, it remains a small part of the overall Class 8 mar- ket. As fueling infrastructure improves, market share is bound to increase, but there's still the cost. n "It will be a slower growth until the service and fuel infrastructure matures," he says. "The first opportunities are the major corridors, and providers combin- ing fuel and service with well-trained technicians along those corridors will have a major competitive advantage." Bio also expects equipment mak- ers will have proprietary fuel system options designed to provide customer- focused advantages, such as better fuel system fill-rates and weight reductions. EFFICIENT. RELIABLE. AND BUILT FROM THE GROUND UP. See what the Eaton ® UltraShift ® PLUS can do for your fl eet. With the Eaton UltraShift PLUS, you aren't limited to any one chassis, set of speeds, set of ratios or service network. We give you the power to spec for your unique application to get you the competitive edge you need. Get your custom UltraShift PLUS solution today at www.ultrashiftplus.com. www.truckinginfo.com D iesel fuel isn't going away. Despite significant gains in market penetration over a very short timeframe, natural gas cannot hold a candle to diesel in terms of availability, ease of handling or energy density. And while natural gas does have pricing and emissions advantages, those price savings might not be quite as glittery as some suggest. Nor are they guar- anteed to hold into the future. Conventional wisdom holds that natural gas is cheaper than diesel and that the higher-priced natural gas powered truck will pay for itself in fuel savings. In June, Andy Douglas, national sales manager at Kenworth, told a press gathering that the current diesel/CNG pricing differential was in the $1.50 to $2.00 range, depending where you are in the country. "The long-term Energy Information Administration forecast is [that] the differential will continue to spread compared to diesel," he said. "We will soon see a two-dollar differential relative to diesel in diesel equivalent gallons." Douglas said the price spread is one of the principle drivers behind natural gas adoption. However, some shippers now expect fleets to pass along the fuel savings, without seeming to consider that fleets need those savings to compensate for the higher up-front cost of the equipment. And if that diesel-to-natural-gas price gap narrows, or fails to open up as natural gas fuel advocates have predicted, it could skew the ROI calculations on natural-gas-powered trucks. Some analysts believe that is likely. "When many of the initial studies were done, the price of diesel was $4 and everyone was expecting it to go up," says Noël Perry, truck and transportation economist at FTR Associates. "At the same time, the price of natural gas, the Henry Hub price, was the lowest it's ever been. Everybody's forecast was that the Henry Hub price would go up slightly, and diesel would be five bucks by now and headed for six." The Henry Hub price is the price of natural gas in the futures-trading mar- ket, not the price at the pump. Natural gas advocates say even when the Henry Hub goes up, pump prices will not go up as much as diesel prices will go up when the trading cost of a barrel of oil goes up. That's because more of the Changing price expectations make natural gas ROI harder to forecast The two-fuel tango ALTERNATIVE FUEL

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