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Trucking companies embracing natural gas vehicles to save money

Trucking companies embracing natural gas vehicles to save money

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The transportation industry may not be one of the most glamorous but it most certainly is one of the most important in our society. It is essentially transportation which allows Chicago grocery store shelves to be kept full and that gives consumers access to what they need and want, when they need and want it.

Like any industry, the push to manage or reduce operational costs is ever-present whether for small owner-operators, large trucking companies or corporations with their own trucking fleets.

Natural gas as a potential solution

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on one move by some companies to shift fuel sources for hauling freight as a means to controlling costs. Retailing giant Lowe’s leads the way with its commitment to operate only natural gas-fueled trucks by 2017. Proctor & Gamble, FedEx and UPS are just some of the other big names that have stated their intentions to increase the number of trucks they operate that are fueled by natural gas sources.

The availability of locations at which to refuel natural gas trucks has historically been one of the stumbling blocks to broader adoption of natural gas in the trucking industry. Some of the larger companies have been able to build their own refueling stations, making it a viable option for them. According to FuelFix, some smaller companies are able to take advantage of a growing number of public stations thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy. Currently there are reported to be 664 such locations nationwide.

Despite this, the Houston Business Journal still acknowledges the availability—or lack thereof—of  refueling sources as perhaps the biggest disadvantage for transportation companies considering natural gas. The cost of natural gas, on the other hand, offers great benefit to businesses big and small. Natural gas trucks may cost slightly more than diesel rigs but the fuel costs easily amortizes out for long-term savings. Companies are also more commonly choosing compressed natural gas instead of liquid natural gas for its ease of handling. Liquid sources require the use of protective gear that is not needed with compressed sources.

A road ahead

Compared to other countries, the United States may not be adopting natural gas as a mainstream fuel source in the commercial market quite as fast but its use of this source is definitely on the rise. Economic pressures are likely to be among the primary drivers of this change in the coming years.

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