Alternative fuels use in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles is accelerating in nearly all U.S. transportation sectors, according to a new report.

U.S. Battery Electric Vehicle & Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Stock

The Sustainable Fleets Report issued Tuesday was completed by a consortium headed by consultants Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA). 

The study looked at natural gas vehicles (NGV), propane, battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell EVs in the medium- and heavy-duty fleets. The report was sponsored by Daimler Trucks North America, Penske Transportation Solutions, Shell Oil Co. and Exelon Corp. 

Researchers said diesel and gasoline would continue to dominate the commercial fleet market. However, about 98% of the fleet companies surveyed expect to increase or continue at the same level their use of sustainable vehicles and fuels. 

Investments are increasing for NGVs, propane, BEVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Fleets also confirmed there was “no material performance loss” when switching to most renewable fuels.

GNA concluded that near-zero emission, ultra-low greenhouse gas emission NGVs have “achieved a level of technological and commercial maturity.” NGV fleet sales grew by 13% last year, hitting an all-time high of 6,000 vehicles sold. Renewable natural gas and gas used in transportation increased 30% from 2015 through 2019. 

More growth was seen in the propane sector using liquefied petroleum gas, particularly for school bus transportation. In addition, more than 90% of surveyed fleets planned to install BEV infrastructure, with one-third indicating they plan to install energy storage. Hydrogen fuel cell EVs remain in the “demonstration and pre-commercial phases” for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.