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natural gas trucks

*from an article by fleetowner.com*

At our fleet fuel card company, we know that many fleets use semi-trailer trucks (also called tractors) for intermodal freight transport, and on average, natural gas costs less than diesel fuel these days. This means that fleets who invest in natural gas-powered trucks to ship their goods could see a larger profit than those who invest in diesel-powered trucks.

Recently, in a meeting with transportation/railroad consulting firm Oliver Wyman and Wall Street investment firm Stifel Nicolaus & Co., Oliver Wyman’s associate partner Jason Kuehn expressed his thoughts on the situation:

“If [natural gas] powered tractors win this battle against the clock, the break-even distance for intermodal economics to win could jump from the approximately 500 to 600 miles today to 700 once the truckers achieve critical mass with the application of [natural gas] engines,” he said.

This means that natural gas-powered semi-trailer trucks could actually give the railroad method of transportation a run for its money.

Kuehn also says that right now, half of intermodal transit is domestic and half is international, but domestic will continue to grow. And as it does, railroad-based transit could slow. Oliver Wyman estimates that in order to support 4% of intermodal growth, railroads would have to build at least two new intermodal terminals a year (each costing $100 million – $175 million).

With this increase in transit, it would be more efficient to invest in larger semi-trailer truck fleets and take some dependency off of the railroads. With natural gas more affordable than diesel, many fleet companies could make the switch and see a profit from it.