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Ryder Moves to CNG, LNG Fueling

Joining a bandwagon that the Obama administration is attempting to jump-start, Ryder Systems Inc. said Thursday it is ordering 202 heavy-duty natural gas vehicles (NGV) for its national fleet truck and equipment rentals.

The ultra low-emission trucks, part of a groundbreaking program in Southern California's trucking hub, will be deployed throughout the region for access by its 1,200 customers for short-term rentals, long-term leases and other arrangements.

Ryder said the latest order is part of an agreement from last fall with the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) in Southern California. The regional government association is leveraging state and federal grants totaling nearly $20 million to put hundreds of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks on the road (see Daily GPI, Aug. 16, 2010).

The latest contingent of heavy-duty vehicles will begin arriving in April, and the company said it expects to have the full order integrated into its fleet in September.

A spokesperson said Ryder also began work in March "to upgrade the first of three existing maintenance facilities in its network to be properly equipped for the indoor servicing of natural gas vehicles and will soon commence construction of two natural gas fueling stations."

Last year Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Inc. released its plans to build LNG refueling stations throughout the region along the main trucking corridors between Los Angeles, San Diego and points to the east in the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. A backbone of hub LNG stations is envisioned, the company said. The company is also opening dual LCNG stations to provide both LNG and CNG.

The state and federal alternative energy vehicle technology programs will allow the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) to work with Ryder to put 202 heavy duty CNG- or LNG-fueled trucks into the truck operator's Southern California operations, a network of 1,200 customers representing more than 6,000 heavy-duty trucks.

Ryder's Robert Sanchez, president for global fleet management, called the new heavy-duty vehicles a important first step in what he thinks will be "the most innovative and large-scale commercial natural gas truck project in North America." Sanchez said the program was part of Ryder's commitment to "environmentally sound and cost effective transportation solutions."

When the program was announced last year it was dubbed as the first-ever heavy duty natural gas-powered truck rental and leasing project, bankrolled by a combination of Ryder ($19.4 million commitment), a $9.9 million U.S. Department of Energy grant and a $9.3 million stipend from the California Energy Commission.

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