Freightliner Trucks and Westport Innovations have scheduled cross-country trips in compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered trucks to prove the availability of the fuel out on the road. The trips are meant to show that the infrastructure to support CNG is rapidly developing and long-haul operations are feasible.
Freightliner drivers are running a Cascadia 113 CNG daycab tractor, featuring the new Cummins Westport ISX12-G engine, coast-to-coast, and started in Long Beach, Calif. at the ACT Expo (view photos here) on May 17 and will end in Washington, D.C. on May 24. It will pull a 53-foot trailer carrying at 30,000-lb. load, the company said.
Freightliner has set up a microsite, www.freightlinergreen.com, where viewers can follow the tour's progress. Drivers will post blog entries, photos and videos. Fuel savings and greenhouse gas reduction estimates will also be featured. In the morning of Thursday, May 24, the site reported a savings of $330.00 compared to using diesel.
Also from May 21 to 24, a Westport Innovations team will take a new Ford F-250 equipped with a WiNG bi-fuel system from Plymouth, Mich., to New York City. Though the truck can run on either CNG or gasoline, the team plans to make the trip almost entirely on natural gas.
"These days, CNG at the pump is about half the price of diesel or gasoline," said a Westport spokesperson in a statement. "While there are currently fewer natural gas fueling stations than traditional gas stations, the numbers are growing, and with planning, it's possible to do a long-haul trip entirely on natural gas."
The Cascadia CNG trip will "promote Freightliner's latest addition to its natural gas product line by proving a truck can run coast‐to-coast on CNG, which to our knowledge has never been done before," the company said in a statement.
Organizations like CNGnow.com post maps showing station locations, and the Westport team will use them to refuel with CNG. Freightliner drivers likewise will use established CNG stations, a representative said.
Sponsors of the Freightliner CNG tour include Agility Fuel Systems, Allison Transmission, Cummins Westport, Gladstein, Neandross and Associates; Ryder System; and Trillium USA. The environmental group, Coalition for Clean Air, has endorsed the LA to DC tour, Freightliner said.
The national average price of regular unleaded has remained flat at $2.86 per gallon for the week ending Aug. 13 in which consumer demand fell and gasoline inventories increased for the first time in six weeks, according to AAA.