Sales of Class 8 trucks powered by natural gas in both the U.S. and improved modestly in February yet remain sluggish, according to data tracked by consulting firm ACT Research Co., largely due to low diesel prices, which is making the return on investment (ROI) less lucrative for fleets.
“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 are lengthening,” noted Ken Vieth, ACT’s GM and senior partner, in a statement.
“This doesn’t mean the adoption of natural gas has stopped or that there are no new developments supporting a future uptick in natural gas truck orders,” he stressed.
However, despite a 3% month-to-month uptick in orders for such trucks in February, year-to-date volumes are 14% below 2015’s level and year-over-year sales are down 25%, ACT’s data indicated.
As a result, the firm predicts only modest, single-digit growth for the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel in the U.S. the next few years, barring any major legislative changes that would favor adoption of that fuel by fleets