Stratford Fuel Station Offers CNG Locally

STRATFORD, ON– Core Fuels, a family-owned company that has been delivering gasoline, diesel and propane around Southwestern  Ontario for  the past 35 years, has taken a confident leap into the natural-gas pool.

“When it comes to having a network,  it’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. No one is going to buy compressed natural gas (CNG) until there is a network of places they can purchase it from,” says Kevin Core. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve with what we invested here. The truck manufacturers think it’s coming and so we wanted to be first in line for that. We’re betting on it’s the right move. ”   

Core says he’s confident in his investment and choice to provide CNG in addition to gas, diesel and propane because “people are looking for better alternatives to help the environment and they’re also looking for cheaper ways to move things around, so we felt this was a natural way to go about it.”

Core says that they’re encouraging customers to use CNG as an alternative fuel locally before thinking about long-haul transportation, because a CNG-powered truck has less range  than a similar-sized diesel. 

Gord Booker, a sales representative for Freightliner and Team Truck Centre says CNG is “25 percent less efficient than diesel for mileage, but it’s also less money so it’s basically more useful right now for local services.”

But for the Cores, CNG makes sense: “It gives us the diversity to offer more products that no one else can at this point,” Core says. “If it works here, we’ll likely expand to our locations in Embro and Alma.”

The Cores had been using CNG to fuel  their own vehicles– two pick-up trucks and a Ford F550– for about four months .

That garnered interest from local customers such as the City of Stratford, which now has a city-owned vehicle running on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

“We sell CNG here for 93.8 cents a kilogram, which is equivalent to 62.9 cents per litre of gas. That’s cutting your costs in half,” Core says.  “If you ran a taxi cab or a courier service, CNG would make a lot of sense  because they could run their business, and come back here to fuel which would be cheaper.”

Many motor fuels have slim margins, Core explains, so they’re hoping to catch a market with a fatter margin, but first they need to create the marketplace.

“It’s an add-on package for vehicles. We put CNG tanks where spare tires are. I run my truck on half of what it costs for gasoline,” Core says. “We compress it right off the natural gas pipeline here. Then it goes from there so we don’t transport the product.”

Then there’s infrastructure to think about.  Vocational Sales Manager for Freightliner, Jeff Gardiner, says that part of the problem is “you need infrastructure so that trucks can travel farther, but companies are hesitant to build then until there’s more trucks on the road.”

Freightliner showed its support of CNG by being the first truck manufacturer to do a transcontinental journey from the west to the east coast using public CNG fuel stations.

“The cost difference between diesel and natural gas is the payback,” Gardiner says. “We’ve got a number of fleets in the refuse industry on CNG.”

Peterbilt has dedicated new trucks with CNG tanks installed in addition to the vehicles running on diesel. Anthony Cromblehome, a sales manager for Peterbilt, agrees that CNG is an important investment to make because of how technologically advanced vehicles are now.

“Especially in the refuse industry, they’ve embraced CNG wholeheartedly and it looks like all refuse vehicles will be CNG soon,” Cromblehome says. 

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