While it's true that CNG/LNG can be a bargain for truckers if they can buy natural gas at the pipeline price, the company that seems to be most active in building CNG stations (Clean Energy Fuels) doesn't appear to be offering natural gas motor fuel at bargain prices. The gas utilities generally have very favorable CNG prices but very few seem to have any interest in promoting motor fuel. A trucking company could install its own CNG Fueling or LNG Fueling equipment to get bulk pricing for natural gas and this equipment has long been available. However, this only makes sense for trucks that return to a home base every day. Ideally, the natural gas motor fuel should be priced so as to yield a reasonable (maximum 2 year?) payback on the additional cost of the truck fleet's natural gas engine and refueling infrastructure.
The availability of a CNG/LNG engine depends upon whether the truck manufacturer offers the Cummins Westport engine and it appears that LNG has a limited availability in truck models. For long range vehicles, more natural gas may be stored onboard a truck as LNG rather than CNG. For those companies interested in moving their fleet to natural gas, the following manufacturers are commonly provide vehicles for the North American trucking industry:
- Freightliner (CNG & LNG)
- Hino (CNG?)
- Kenworth (LNG)
- Mack (CNG, LNG, Landfill Gas, HCNG)
- International (no apparent CNG or LNG)
- Peterbilt Motors (CNG & LNG)
- Volvo (DME in R&D, LNG)
- Western Star (no apparent CNG or LNG)
Since there is no MSRP or performance data available for any of CNG or LNG trucks, one can only ask why manufacturers are so secretive. Does the CNG or LNG option carry a hefty premium that requires a substantial tax incentive to make these vehicles economically viable? If so, is the availability of LNG tax incentives (necessary to ultimately buy Clean Energy Fuels' natural gas) the political leadership that Pickens is looking for?
According to the AFDC Fuel Stations, there are only 40 LNG stations in the entire USA, with the vast majority (32) being in California. This compares with 873 CNG stations, with the majority (215) being in California. Therefore, the drive to replace OPEC oil with natural gas has to start in California and most likely in the Greater Los Angeles area.