Last week I attended the Natural Gas Vehicles Canada Conference at the Westin Prince Hotel in Toronto. It was a well put together event with a strong list of speakers. The list of fleet attendees seemed shorter than last year’s but interest in natural gas as a transportation fuel is clearly still there. This was proven by the announcement C.A.T. will be leasing 100 CNG tractors from Ryder.

The conference came at an interesting time, just weeks after Volvo announced it will pause development of its 13L LNG engine. This is a troubling trend for the Canadian market. We all know Westport has discontinued its 15L engine, Cummins has put on hold its ISX15 G and now with Volvo’s announcement, it appears we’re really limited to the ISX12 G – at least for the foreseeable future. Early indications are the 12 G is a great engine, fully capable of weights of 80,000 lbs – but that’s where it maxes out.

This engine won’t help fleets looking to run LCVs or haul heavy payloads. This leaves the Canadian early adopters in a real mess.

They’ve been running the 15L Westport in heavy-haul applications and they are left without a viable alternative when those engines reach the end of their life-cycle.

Still, fleets attending the NGV conference remained upbeat. They seem certain a higher-displacement alternative will come to market. I’m less certain of that. When you consider the 12L fits the vast majority of the requirements in the US and the small volumes that Canada represents in comparison and the investment dollars required to bring a 13- or 15L gas engine to market, we could be waiting for quite some time. I hope I’m wrong on this one.

We have delivered some comprehensive coverage from the event. Here’s a rundown for you, in case you missed it:

Progressive Waste Solutions plans to double the size of its CNG fleet

Consider the human and environmental factors when deploying natural gas trucks: UPS

LNG trucks are no longer a science fair projects, Vedder Transport exec claims

Sutco Transportation, Robert Transport remain bullish on natural gas

Fleets want 15L engine returned, but 12L delivering savings where it fits

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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