Photo: Kenworth Trucks
Kenworth T680 AJR Trucking

California fleet is first to put 'near-zero' Kenworth T680 to work

May 15, 2018
Low-emission T680, along with 19 other new Kenworth T680 day cabs just like it, are now entering service on a 50-mile postal run from Santa Clarita, CA, to Los Angeles International Airport

AJR Trucking co-owners Jack and Chris Khudikyan received the keys to the first Kenworth T680 equipped with the new 12-liter Cummins Westport ISX12N engine during a ceremony at the Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Long Beach, CA, earlier this month. The engine is the lowest emission certified engine in North America, according to Kenworth, with emission levels that are 90% lower than the current North American EPA standard.

That low-emission T680, along with 19 other new Kenworth T680 day cabs just like it, are now entering service on a 50-mile postal run from Santa Clarita, CA, to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The trucks were purchased through Inland Kenworth–Montebello in Southern California.

According to Jack Khudikyan, the company’s move to Kenworth began after testing a Kenworth T680 day cab equipped with the 400-hp Cummins Westport ISX12N engine powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) over the past year.

“We had to see how the truck and engine performed; how re-fueling went and how are drivers worked with the truck,” said Khudikyan. “It was very positive. That led us to put in motion a contract bid with the USPS using 20 Kenworth T680s with the near-zero engine. When we won the contract, we submitted the order to Kenworth and were helped with a grant from SoCalGas (Prop 1 B). It was a triple win. We received help from the grant to purchase near-zero trucks; we passed along some of the savings to the post service; and the environment became greener since we removed 20 of our older diesel trucks from operation.”

More near-zero T680s are in the plans for the remainder of the year, said Khudikyan, who along with his father, Chris, operate 250 trucks with the postal service throughout California. “We’re planning on adding 70 more units,” he said. “We’ve been analyzing all our routes to see what could work with re-fueling stations. We will add CNG trucks where it makes sense. We’ve projected the payback – without the grants – to be about 1-1/2 years. The cost of CNG is about half that of diesel, so there is a good ROI. When you factor in that we plan to run 1.3 million miles a year to LAX with the 20 T680s, the fuel savings are substantial.”

On the LAX run, AJR Trucking uses a commercial CNG fueling station near the airport. “Behind the cab on the T680, we are using the Worthington CNG fuel system and tanks with a diesel equivalency of 167 gallons,” said Khudikyan. “That means we have a range of about 700 miles, and will only need to fuel up every two or three days. In preparation of putting the 20 new T680s into service, we’ve been rotating drivers into our current Kenworth CNG truck, so everyone will hit the road running on re-fueling. Our drivers won’t need training once the new trucks are in service.”

According to Khudikyan, the Kenworth T680 is the perfect truck to handle CNG. “We plan to hold onto these trucks for their entire life cycle, so what’s important to us is durability, reliability, and comfort. The T680 is a powerful truck and it’s built to last. We’re excited to begin operation, and so are our drivers. This is just the start.”

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