Some of the key obstacles to widespread take-up of natural gas-fuelled HD trucks include:
Upfront capital cost. Diesel HD trucks cost approximately $120,000. Natural gas trucks add a significant
price premium ($80,000 to $100,000).
Access to capital. Even if the life cycle savings (due to reduced fuel costs) exceed the upfront capital costs,
trucking carriers in general may have greater difficulty accessing the capital required.
Lack of refuelling and liquefaction (in the case of LNG) infrastructure. In order for there to be widespread takeup, a dense and competitive refuelling infrastructure will have to be developed. Liquefaction also adds to
the costs and reduces the life cycle energy balance.
Vehicle range. CNG in particular is not well-suited for long-haul trucking activity. LNG suffers less of a
penalty because of its higher energy density (relative to CNG). A LNG truck with two 450-litre tanks has
an operating range of approximately 1,200 kilometres. Larger tanks can overcome the vehicle range issue
to some extent, but only at the expense of weight.
Reduced payload. A LNG truck is typically 400 to 500 kilograms heavier than an equivalent diesel
truck, due to the weight of the LNG tanks. This reduces the amount of freight that can be carried.
At 10 cents of revenue per TKM and a 1,000-km length-of-haul, this translates to $40 to $50 of lost
revenue per trip.
Other factors. Due to the lack of widespread use of natural gas trucks, their long-term track record in terms of performance, reliability, and resale value relative to diesel trucks is less certain. However, due to the cleaner burning nature of the fuel, there is at least the potential for reduced maintenance costs. At the same time, there is also the potential for increased costs related to inspection, certification, and employee training.
Source: The Conference Board of Canada, 2012
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