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Class 8 natural gas truck sales up 19% in 2021

Aug. 2, 2021
While natural gas retail truck sales are lagging behind all Class 8 vehicle sales to start the year, ACT Research saw a late spring jump in alternate-powered truck sales.

For the first five months of 2021, U.S. and Canadian Class 8 natural gas truck retail sales rose 19% year-to-date, compared to the start of 2020, which included the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data recently released by ACT Research.

The somewhat unfair time period comparison was noted in ACT’s quarterly report, AFQ: Alternative Fuels Quarterly. Total Class 8 vehicle sales in the U.S. during the same period were up 32% this year.

“Sales of natural gas-powered vehicles as reported by the six major truck OEMs, who account for approximately 60% of the heavy-duty natural gas market, were mixed in the March to May 2021 time period, with March experiencing a sizeable sequential gain and even more impressive year-over-year growth,” said Steve Tam, vice president at ACT Research. 

The AFQ provides insight, analysis, and trends about alternative fuel/power adoption for the U.S. heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicle markets. The AFQ details adoption considerations including fuel prices, fuel/charging infrastructure development, equipment prices/products/technological developments, and regulatory changes. Natural gas truck sales data and a forecast for new natural gas adoption are included in the quarterly report.

“Counter to COVID-influenced expectations, April natural gas vehicle sales volumes dropped month-over-month and year-over-year, also reducing the year-to-date increase,” Tam said. “Activity in May appears to have shrugged off whatever afflicted April, returning to solid, across-the-board improvement, with sales jumping 23% sequentially and 206% higher than the year-ago level.”

Tam added that ACT is seeing developments in alternative fuel and power infrastructure for heavy-duty equipment. “We’re seeing an overall increase in electric charging stations, but a continuing decline of total natural gas stations,” he explained. “That said, we continue to see articles about natural gas use in transportation, as well as discussions about hydrogen fuel cells and investments in electric commercial vehicle development, making trade-industry headlines.”

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