Natural Gas: Fuel of the Future or Flash in the Pan?

It wasn't that long ago that natural gas was considered a fringe fuel for the Class 8 market. But its fortunes seem to have reversed, as it enjoys a significant re-evaluation by the big OEs.

While it wasn’t that long ago that natural gas was considered a fringe fuel for the Class 8 market, its fortunes have reversed as it enjoys a significant re-evaluation. When it first came into consideration, there were many barriers to wide acceptance of natural gas, with conversion costs, weight, and availability topping the list. With two of those hurdles now largely dismissed, and many others disappearing, is natural gas a solid prospect as a fuel of the future? It had better be, given the investment industry has made in the fuel so far.

It’s the job of people like Mark Lampert, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing at Daimler Trucks North America, to know the future of fuel. They can’t simply drop one technology in favour or another at the drop of a hat. When I was in Napa, California earlier this year to test drive Daimler’s latest CNG offering, a Freightliner Cascadia 113, I spent a few minutes with Mark to get his take on the short and long term future of natural gas as a Class 8 fuel.

To put the emergence of natural gas and other potential alternatives to diesel in perspective, Lampert says he recently read an article discussing the potential impact of alternative fuels on the Saudi Arabian economy. If the Saudis are looking over their shoulder, you can bet there’s a future to alternative fuels.