Natural gas can meet daily driving needs for return-to-base and regional corridor fleets. Onboard fuel storage comes in different size packages that can be tailored to driving needs. A highway tractor equipped with the Westport HD engine and a two-tank fuel system can travel as much as 800 to 1,000 kilometers. The driving range for an urban bus or refuse truck depends on the tank package selected, but daily driving ranges of 300 to 500 kilometres can be achieved using natural gas.
Fleets considering natural gas should review their daily driving patterns and determine whether natural gas is a viable option for their operations. Fuel storage tanks add weight, so truck dealers and manufacturer representatives will work with fleets to right-size their on-vehicle natural gas fuel storage package.
As diesel technology has had to change to comply with more stringent emissions standards, there have been cost and fuel economy tradeoffs. Diesel fuel has also increased in cost along with rising crude oil prices. Using natural gas means making changes to fleet operations related to fuel storage on vehicles, refueling practices, facilities, and training, but the economic benefit of doing so can be significant.
The distance that a diesel truck can drive on $500 worth of fuel has decreased significantly over the past decade as a result of technology changes to comply with emission standards and rising diesel fuel costs. Using natural gas is like “setting back the clock” as fleets are able to drive much further on the same $500 worth of fuel.