Ryder, C.A.T. Lead the Natural Gas Way

Rolf Lockwood

C.A.T.’s Daniel Goyette with daughters Annie and Karine, who are increasingly running the company day to day

Miami, FL/Couteau-du-Lac, QC — Ryder System has announced that a full-service lease agreement has been signed with C.A.T. — Canadian American Transportation — for 100 compressed natural gas (CNG) sleeper tractors. This is Ryder’s first natural gas lease customer in Canada and its largest single such lease to date.

Perhaps the bigger ‘first’ is the fact that C.A.T. will pioneer running a cross-border long-haul operation with natural gas vehicles (NGVs), and on CNG to boot.

The adventuresome truckload carrier will use the trucks — Freightliner Cascadias with Cummins Westport ISX12 G engines — on a route from Montreal to Laredo, Texas. The 100 Freightliners will replace the same number of diesel-fuelled tractors in the fleet. C.A.T. sat 25th in the Today’s Trucking Top 100 For Hire Fleets ranking this year, with 350 power units and 1350 trailers as of March.

Conventional wisdom suggests that liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the fuel of choice for over-the-road NGVs mostly because of the longer range they offer compared to CNG, among other reasons. It’s not yet clear why C.A.T. president Daniel Goyette chose CNG, but with either form of the fuel, the challenge is not so much in the hardware but the infrastructure. Details of how C.A.T. will meet that challenge have not emerged so far, though Goyette says he’s finalizing a deal to implement filling stations where he needs them along the Montreal/Laredo corridor. The trucks have not yet been delivered.

Ryder will provide maintenance for the 100 CNG vehicles from its Montreal service facility, which is being upgraded for compliance with natural gas standards.

“Ryder’s investment in natural gas vehicles and maintenance infrastructure began with a pilot project in southern California, and has grown to be one of the largest commercial natural gas vehicle programs in North America,” said Ryder president of global fleet management solutions, Dennis Cooke.

Ryder says it has more than 27 million miles of natural gas operating experience, with NGVs deployed in several states. It operates two liquefied-to-compressed natural gas (LCNG) fuel stations at its maintenance facilities in Orange and Fontana, Calif., as well as an LNG fuel station at its Fulton, Ga. maintenance facility.

Founded in 1978, C.A.T. services major corporations in the automotive, food, beverage, consumer packaged goods, and electronics industries, running across North America, Mexico included. As well as its main terminal in Couteau-du-Lac, QC, it has seven others in Quebec, Ontario, Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. It’s been a Smartway-certified carrier since 2007, an early convert to automated-manual transmissions and trailer skirts.

C.A.T. has been leasing trucks from Ryder for the past eight years.

Early in 2013 Daniel Goyette said his company would no longer buy tractors at all, but lease them. He opted for a short 30-month lease program so as to remain flexible in the fuel he used. At the time he said he was bullish on natural gas. (See ‘C.A.T.’s New Leases On Life’, Today’s Trucking, April 2013, p. 27.)

“I’m pretty convinced,” he said then, “that natural gas is the way of the future. If I buy trucks and keep them five years, I may be depriving myself of the competitive advantage that will be offered when the natural gas supply network is in place.”

And now he’s following through. Stay tuned.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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