Healthy start for natural gas Class 8 retail sales in 2017

COLUMBUS, IN – The first quarter of 2017 saw a healthy start for natural gas heavy duty retail sales, boosted primarily from refuse fleets, transit and school bus operators.

“The best January in the past three years set up the positive year-to-date February performance,” said Steve Tam, vice-president of ACT Research. “Among truckers, it appears as though the majority of incremental volume came from those who currently have natural gas vehicles and are replacing units or increasing their number.”

According to ACT’s most recent Natural Gas & Alternative Fuels Quarterly publication, despite healthy retail sales, in comparison to the total market, natural gas Class 8 truck and bus sales remain slow when calculated as a percentage of the total market. In 2016, the natural gas share was estimated at 3% of the market due to the higher new truck sales and lower natural gas penetration.

“Given relatively low diesel fuel prices and the subsequent price narrower spread between CNG and diesel, payback times remain longer than most truckers’ trade cycles,” said Tam.

As electric options continue to occupy industry discussions, ACT Research has expanded the alternative fuel section in the latest release of its Natural Gas & Alternative Fuels publication. The new section is titled Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicles 101.

“With the recent news coverage of Nikola Motor Company, Tesla, Toyota, and others, it is important to keep a finger on the pulse of the entire alternative fuels market,” said Tam. “Whether it is natural gas or hybrid electric, companies need to be well informed of the market options when considering alternatives for their current vehicles.”

ACT Research has a quick reference calculator for fleets considering converting to natural gas from diesel. 

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