Compressed natural gas (CNG) continues to gain attention in the transportation fleet, fuel and vehicle sectors, as well as more integration in the states.

In global manufacturing, the 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 that they will be available for shipping in the second quarter. Landi is touting a CNG technology that it claims is durable and reliable for the gas transportation sector.

The addition of the larger Ford heavy-duty trucks was requested by customers, according to Andrea Landi, president of U.S. arm Baytech. The company has a QVM conversion unit in California. “Flexibility” is what the company touts. “A single distribution channel is not always the right fit for every utility, shuttle and delivery company.”

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) and “dozens” of additional plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from GM and Ford Motor Co. 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 transportation services manager Dave Meisel.

Gasoline is the fallback, Meisel said, but the utility ideally would prefer to run CNG all the time. PG&E also has 1,500 vehicles operating on biofuels, he noted.

In Maryland, $400,000 has been budgeted for a natural gas voucher program, under which fleet operators may apply to offset the cost of CNG vehicles for up to $20,000/vehicle for those with gross weights of more than 26,000 pounds. The Maryland Natural Gas Voucher Program is for state-registered fleets that have been in operation for three years. Public transit agencies are not eligible. After-market conversions are eligible, but Maryland requires that they meet stringent California Air Resources Board standards.

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