As an option for fleet operators turned off by high up-front costs of switching off of diesel or gasoline, two firms in the West have come up with a leasing alternative for long-haul liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered tractor trailers.

The option is being developed for the Interstate 84 and I-15 corridors from Las Vegas, NV, through Utah, Idaho and eastern Oregon.

Engine-maker Paccar’s PacLease and Kenworth Sales units have partnered with a leasing offering, as has Salt Lake City-based Blu LNG. They are offering leases for LNG-fueled Kenworth T800 trucks along the western highway corridors. Affiliated with China’s ENN Energy, Blu is in the process of establishing a network of LNG and LNG/compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations throughout the West, Midwest and South.

Trucks will be available at select Kenworth Sales-PacLease locations near Blu LNG fueling stations in several western states: Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Leased Kenworth 800 trucks will have Westport HD 15-liter engines and associated 120-gallon LNG fuel systems from Vancouver, BC-based Westport Innovations Inc. They will be available in four different configurations, according to the companies. “They meet the needs of most fleets while matching the LNG fueling infrastructure that Blu is currently installing,” said Olen Hunter, sales director for PacLease.

“The rental program has the potential to really open up the market for buying and leasing natural gas-powered trucks.”

The relationship with Blu, which has plans for a national network of fueling stations, offers fleets assurances that the fueling infrastructure is in place to support their leased trucks, Hunter said. Leasing also gives fleet operators a chance to determine if the price spread between LNG and diesel provides them enough savings to more widely adopt natural gas trucks for their fleets.

Configurations of the trucks will include local delivery, regional delivery, line haul and heavy haul models. “The heavy haul configuration will be particularly well spec’d to handle the punishing environments typical with oil/gas exploration work,” Hunter said.

The target market sectors, besides oil/gas exploration, include regional food/beverage distribution, raw products hauling for the agricultural industry, and finished products for food processors. “This will be an opportunity to test natural gas trucks in their specific operations and duty cycles,” Hunter said.

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