The undeniable economic benefits of switching to natural gas have come to the trucking industry. One need only look at top engine maker Cummins, now shipping new, long-run, natural gas models. Vehicle manufacturers like Navistar and Volvo have plans to offer long-haul natural gas-powered vehicles. Fuel stations across North America stand ready to service LNG (liquefied natural gas) vehicles. And companies everywhere (like Nike and Walmart) are not only turning to natural gas with the aim to reduce costs, they’re looking to boost their green credentials.
But when those who make shipping their business jump on board, that’s a sure sign of a true paradigm shift. By the end of 2014, United Parcel Service (UPS) will be expanding its heavy, 18-wheel fleet with 800 LNG vehicles (utilizing the aforementioned Cummins engines). UPS hopes LNG vehicles will make up most of its new heavy vehicle acquisitions over the next two years.
Chief sustainability officer for UPS, Scott Wicker, hopes his company’s actions will “…pave the way and others will follow.” The industry as a whole has a long way to go – with eight million existing heavy and medium-weight trucks running on diesel. Wicker added, “Moving into LNG is… the right step for us, for our customers and for our planet.”
UPS will enjoy lower fuel costs – saving as much as $0.40 per litre (or 19-25 per cent per kilometer over diesel).
Of course shorter-haul municipal vehicles, like buses for transit and garbage trucks, have been enjoying the benefits of natural gas for years.
Do you think the lower cost of shipping will be passed down to consumers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.