U.S. and Canadian natural gas Class 8 truck retail sales saw a 48% increase in May over the previous month, after getting off to a slow start earlier in the year, according to a recent report from ACT Research.
On the other hand, the report finds that sales were down 21% over the past 12 months and down 24% year-to-date compared to 2015.
The Natural Gas Quarterly attributes the increase in May to a high number of natural gas vehicle repeat sales and purchases by transit bus and refuse truck operators. However, the report finds that continuing low cost of diesel is making the return on investment (ROI) for adopting natural gas less lucrative for fleets that have not yet made the investment.
“With the fuel price differential continuing to narrow, the ROI to convert from diesel to natural gas is moving in the wrong direction: Payback periods remain lengthy,” says Ken Vieth, ACT’s senior partner and general manager. “This doesn’t mean the adoption of natural gas fuel has stopped or that there are no new developments supporting a future uptick in natural gas truck orders.”
“Despite a 48% month-over-month uptick in May, year-to-date volumes are 24% below 2015’s level, and year-over-year sales are down 21%. Natural gas infrastructure continues to be built – albeit at targeted locations and at a slowing pace. Existing natural gas equipment users remain committed to its long-term viability and emission benefits.”
Additionally, the report provides examples of how equipment research and development efforts are continuing to advance the natural gas market. The Natural Gas Quarterly features a dashboard gauge that looks at fuel price spread, public heavy-duty natural gas fueling infrastructure, natural gas equipment and natural gas heavy-duty truck sales.