Citing a growth spurt in the natural gas vehicle (NGV) market for trucks late this year, a new report from Navigant Research projects that 1.9 million NGV trucks and 1.8 million NGV buses will be on the road globally by 2022.

Lower fuel costs and environmental benefits are expected to drive market growth for NGV trucks and buses at a compound annual rate of 12.6% and 6.4%, respectively, from now through 2022, according to Navigant’s report, “Natural Gas Trucks and Buses.”

With the continued price and environmental benefits over diesel, Navigant said new engines and vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) are expected in 2014. The new engines in particular are expected to spur sales, the report said.

“The Cummins Westport joint venture is launching a 12-liter natural gas engine that will fill a void in North America and is expected to provide robust growth for the day cab market,” Navigant said.

“Two main issues are driving the increased use of natural gas as a fuel for trucks and buses: lower cost of natural gas and the lower emissions of natural gas engines.”

The report estimates that 400,000 medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses will be sold in 2022, with the Asian-Pacific market accounting for more than three-quarters of the sales. North America is forecast to account for 12.7% of those vehicles.

Navigant said the growth of NGV trucks and buses will be driven by four key factors: economic benefit, increased vehicle availability, lower emissions and an expansion of the refueling infrastructure.

Compared to diesel, CNG is about 42% cheaper, and with this price advantage the payback period for heavy-duty trucks can be as short as 1.5 years, Navigant said.

Another report published by Navigant earlier this year forecast that all types of NGVs will total about 35 million worldwide by 2020 (see Daily GPI, June 27). That’s a jump from 18.2 million NGVs on the roadway now to 34.9 million by 2020.

Navigant’s latest report analyzed the global market for trucks and buses that are in the medium-duty (10,000 to 26,000 pounds) and heavy-duty (26,000 pounds or more) gross vehicle weight classes. The report examined related market issues, including refueling availability, competing alternative technologies, total cost of ownership, vehicle availability and government influences.