U.S. and Canadian Class 8 trucks that operate on natural gas saw retail sales improve modestly in February after getting off to a slow start in 2016, according to a recent report from ACT Research.
The trucking industry forecaster attributes this to a high number of natural gas vehicle repeat sales, despite the continuing low cost of diesel prices, which is making the return on investment for adopting of natural gas less lucrative for fleets not yet invested in NG-fueled vehicles.
“With the fuel price differential continuing to narrow, the ROI to convert from diesel to natural gas is moving in the wrong direction: payback periods are lengthening,” said Ken Vieth, ACT’s senior partner and general manager.
“This doesn’t mean the adoption of natural gas fuel has stopped or that there are no new developments supporting a future uptick in NG truck orders, he said.
“Despite a 3 percent month over month uptick in February, year-to-date volumes are 14 percent below 2015’s level and year-over-year sales are down 25 percent. NG infrastructure continues to be built, albeit at targeted locations, and existing NG equipment users remain committed to its long-term viability and emission benefits.”
Additionally, Vieth said, the ACT report provides examples of how equipment research and development efforts are continuing to advance the market. ACT Research sees only modest, single-digit growth for the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel in the U.S. the next few years, barring legislative changes.
The Natural Gas Quarterly provides information on the current and projected status of those factors that impact a decision to adopt natural gas. It includes a “dashboard gauge” that looks at fuel price spread, public heavy-duty NG fueling infrastructure, NG equipment, and actual NG heavy-duty truck sales.