Natural gas Sterlings delivered to ports

LONG BEACH, Ca. — Some 132 owner-operators contracted to California Cartage are now driving near-zero-emission Sterling Set-Back 113 tractors in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Powered by 2010-compliant Cummins Westport ISL G engines running on natural gas, the trucks have been made available on a lease-to-own program — for little more than $300 a month — funded by $12 million in grants provided by the Environmental Protection Agency through the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

It’s actually an interesting public/private partnership that involved several government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels as well as Daimler Trucks North America and a family-run fleet, California Cartage. Unlike most other such partnerships, this one produced results quickly, less than two years after the idea first arose to clean up the ports by mandating the replacement of older trucks.

Some of those ‘older’ trucks are in fact ancient. Given the slim margins inherent in such work, many owner-operators serving the ports run pre-1989 tractors and couldn’t possibly replace them with newer, cleaner vehicles without financial assistance of some sort.

LNG trucks used at ports will cut down on thousands
of barrels of foreign oil, says Daimler

 The Clean Air Action Plan devised for the two ports is an aggressive piece of public policy that will see all 16,000 trucks serving the ports adhere to at least 2007 EPA standards by Dec. 31, 2010. Retrofitting the requisite emissions equipment is an option, but at a cost of US$35,000, it’s unlikely that anyone will take that route. As well as the 132 LNG Sterlings delivered to Cal Cartage, another 100 such trucks will be delivered by DTNA for use by other carriers and owner-operators working in the twin ports.

“This event sets a whole new standard for leadership, policy and investment that will act as benchmarks for the future of harbor drayage worldwide,” said Mark Lampert, DTNA senior vice president, sales, in introducing the new trucks to an assemblage of press and dignitaries at the Port of Long Beach this week.

"By introducing the Set-Back 113 with natural gas, we’re giving our customers a hard-working truck that reduces both costs and environmental emissions," added Chris Patterson, DTNA president and CEO.

“Each tractor will reduce the use of imported oil by 500 barrels per year,” he said. “With 132 Cal Cartage tractors plus 100 additional natural gas trucks to be operated by the ports, that reduces our dependency on foreign oil by more than 116,000 barrels annually.”

Ironically, the Sterling brand is about to disappear as DTNA shuts down that subsidiary, but the company is engineering a replacement for these port trucks by way of the Freightliner Business Class M2 112 natural gas tractor. It too will be powered by the 8.9-liter Cummins Westport ISL G engine, which is 2010-compliant now.

These trucks produce virtually no emissions of sulfur dioxide or particulate matter and far lower levels of greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxides than ’07 models. The ISL G features a maintenance-free exhaust system with a three-way catalyst — they don’t have diesel particulate filters, so there’s no regeneration or periodic cleaning required.

The balance of the Long Beach/Los Angeles order will be filled by the ultra-clean M2 112 by April of next year. The class 7/8 truck is useful in other applications as well, such as LTL/regional hauling, construction, and municipal services, among others.


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