Compressed natural gas (CNG) continued to gain more attention in the transportation fleet, fuel and vehicle sectors, gaining more acceptance as shown in reports in California and Maryland so far this month.

A global vehicle outfitter, a California-based U.S. subsidiary of Italy’s Landi Renzo, has developed a bi-fuel CNG-gasoline upfit system for Ford F-450 and F-550 heavy-duty trucks, noting they will be available for shipping in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) said it plans to order 50 CNG-gasoline bi-fuel pickup trucks from General Motors (GM). Separately the multi-billion-dollar combination utility said it also plans to order “dozens” of additional plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from both GM and Ford.

Another statewide program in Maryland has budgeted $400,000 for a natural gas voucher program, under which fleet operators can apply for vouchers to offset the cost of CNG vehicles of up to $20,000/vehicle for those with gross weights of more than 26,000 pounds.

The Maryland Natural Gas Voucher Program is aimed at fleet vehicles registered in the state. They must be operated for three years, and public transit agencies are not eligible. “After-market conversions are eligible, but Maryland requires they meet the stringent California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards.”

Landi Renzo claims there has been “widespread adoption” of its CNG and bi-fuel systems for both Ford- and GM-based platforms. It is touting a CNG technology that is claimed to be among the most durable and reliable around the natural gas transportation technology sector.

The addition of the larger Ford heavy-duty (“super duty”) trucks was requested broadly by customers, said Landi Renzo USA/Baytech president Andrea Landi. The company already offers a line of dedicated CNG-powered trucks and vans.

Landi Renzo operates a 25,000-square-foot conversion unit, QVM, in Torrance, CA.

“Flexibility” is what the company touts. “A single distribution channel is not always the right fit for every utility, shuttle and delivery company,” the company said.

For PG&E’s utility operations CNG is nothing new; it currently operates 900 dedicated CNG vehicles in its sprawling fleet across central and northern California. Because the combination utility needs to be able to “go anywhere, anytime,” it is moving to bi-fuel CNG three-quarter-ton trucks, said Dave Meisel, transportation services manager.

Gasoline is the fallback, Meisel said, but the utility would prefer to be running on CNG all the time ideally. In addition to its many natural gas-powered vehicles, PG&E also has 1,500 vehicles operating on biofuels, Meisel said.

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