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15-Liter NatGas Engine Delayed, But NGVs Keep Trucking

Citing the need for more fueling infrastructure, one of nation's major makers of natural gas engines, Cummins Inc., has decided to "pause" the development of its 15-liter spark ignition engine for at least the first six months of this year. Industry sources, however, indicate that this should not slow the development of more long-haul trucking moving to natural gas vehicles (NGV).

The need for more public infrastructure is the difference between the still developing ISX15 G engine and the already available 11.9-liter ISX12 G that Cummins Westport introduced last year, according to Roe East, the company's on-highway NGV business general manager, who told industry news media that the company remains committed to natural gas.

East said that Cummins will reexamine the 15-liter engine's timetable around mid-year. He thinks most of the fleet operators purchasing the 12-liter Cummins Westport engine have dedicated fueling or run regular point-to-point routes, while potential 15-liter customers run variable routes and "need to be confident that they can stop at a public station."

In an interview with Fleet and Fuels newsletter, East said the six-month pause could turn into a year-long hiatus, depending upon how quickly fueling infrastructure needs can be satisfied.

Nevertheless, officials at Westport Innovations in Vancouver, BC, and Clean Energy Fuels Corp. in Newport Beach, CA, emphasized that 12-liter engines remain a key driver for the development of more over-the-road long-haul trucking and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling infrastructure that they envision (see Daily GPI, Aug. 25, 2011).

Market interest remains strong in the 12-liter Cummins Westport product, a Vancouver-based Westport spokesperson told NGI on Friday, and a Clean Energy spokesperson confirmed that the 12-liter is "the key engine for America's long-haul truckers."

Meanwhile, interest in compressed natural gas (CNG) for shorter-haul truck fleets continues to expand. Another national truck stop operator, Love's, announced the opening of CNG pumps at its Amarillo, TX, station on the I-40 highway. It is one of 11 Love's stations in Texas and Oklahoma offering CNG.

The operator of 300 facilities in 39 states, Love's officials said given the access to natural gas pipelines, they hope to have CNG capability at 90% of their stations nationwide. Love's also has added five more NGVs to its Gemini Motor Transport truck fleet of 25 Freightliner and 25 Peterbilt trucks hauling liquid fuels to its stations.

A national trash/recycling company, Republic Services Inc., said it finished 4Q2013 adding nearly 500 CNG trucks to its fleet and it plans to add 400-500 more NGVs this year. It operates a combination of Autocar, Mack Trucks and Paccar's Peterbilt trucks throughout the nation.

Republic's next-to-last 2013 CNG deployment was in December, adding 107 new NGV trucks at its Anaheim, CA, operations. Area President Ron Krall said the emissions reductions from the added trucks were equivalent to taking 535 gasoline-power autos off the road. The company's final CNG deployment involved 79 CNG trucks going into Republic operations in Indianapolis, IN.

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