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Pace of North American NGV Market Slows, Volvo Says

The pace of development of the alternative fuel vehicle market has slowed, prompting Volvo Trucks to cut back on its development efforts in the natural gas vehicle (NGV) sector.

Volvo is putting on hold its plans to develop a 13-liter, compression-ignition NGV engine. It said separately that further work with dimethyl ether (DME) will depend on "market and stakeholder interest" in the fuel.

The Swedish-based company said it is "adapting to the pace of the North American alternative fuel market." This is a change from the company's promotion at the ACT Expo 2014 alternative fuel convention in May, where it said it would offer a 13-liter liquefied natural gas (LNG) compression-ignition NGV engine next year and take orders late this year.

Volvo officials have changed their outlook, contending that gas infrastructure to support long-haul trucking has only grown modestly during the past year.

Volvo officials said longer term they still believe there will be a market in the heavy-duty truck sector for DME, which can be produced from natural gas. "Customer field tests of DME-powered vehicles will continue, but the company has decided not to establish a commercialization date," a Volvo spokesperson said.

Elsewhere, NGV and diesel conversion system supplier GFS Corp. said it has an order for its EVO-MT 9300 NGV conversion system to be installed on Komatsu 930E haul trucks operating at Arch Coal's Black Thunder mine in Campbell County, WY.

As part of a broader test program by the mine, GFS said it will convert nearly a quarter of Arch Coal's 930E haul trucks to run on LNG using the GFS 9300 conversion technology. Two 830E haul trucks have been operating on LNG since early this year, the company said.

"As the pilot customer for our EVO-MT system for the Komatsu 830E trucks, we are pleased that Arch Coal is expanding its evaluation program to include the 930E fleet," said Jason Green, GFS president.

GFS said it expects to complete the 930E conversions by the end of the year.

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