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CNG vs. Diesel Truck Operating Cost

CNG vs. Diesel fuel for Class 7 and 8 trucks (mainly refuse trucks), was discussed at the 2013 ACT Expo in D.C. Several truck fleet executives shared their experiences in successfully implementing natural gas in their operations. This decreased their truck operating costs.

Executives from Ryder, Paper Transport said they’d learned from the experiences of refuse trucks and have benefitted as they have converted or purchased CNG trucks for their use. Some tips shared include:

  • ensure no contamination of components (have clean hands/gloves when handling components)
  • torque values are very precise and important
  • there’s an eighty percent component commonality with a diesel engine, so no steep learning curve
  • they have had to develop some training for their technicians

Cost Savings for Trucks Using CNG

For Paper Transport, they’ve recognized a cost savings of of $2.33 (diesel gallon equivalent), compared to $3.93 to diesel at the pump. They also appreciate the more stable prices of natural gas vs. crude oil. As far as operating costs, a CNG unit can cost $185,000 on the lot compared to a $125,000 similarly spec’d diesel unit.

The estimated value of a truck at the end of its 7-year, 770,000 mile life cycle is approximately $30,000, about $10,000 higher than a diesel truck.

They’ve estimated a payback of roughly four years, citing a .607 cents cost-per-mile to operate a CNG truck vs. .637 cents for a diesel truck.

Even when you factor in the higher cost of the CNG truck, you should be able to come out ahead of a properly spec’d truck. They estimate a net cost of about $315,000 for the diesel truck vs. $250,000 with CNG. Performance should be about the same for either truck.

For more details on the fleet executives talking NG cost of ownership for their trucks, click here.

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