Having experienced alternative fuels myself for years, it is amazing how many different forms are now coming to fruition from what I had initially seen on the drawing board, back when I first got my CNG daycab. With most of the headlines now going to all-electric Class 8 truck hopefuls, hydrogen-electric hybrids have recently nabbed headlines back again with Nikola’s announcement that they will be refunding all of their inital order deposits in light of a very large order being placed for their new truck. I will soon be attending the ACT (Alternative Clean Transportation) Expo in Long Beach, CA as I do each year and I can’t wait to see what takes center stage this year. Word has it that Thor will even be bringing their all-electric truck for a ride-and-drive demo!
With diesel prices hitting a 2018 high on average throughout the nation this week, with prices here in CA flirting dangerously close to the $4.00 mark in some places, the viability of alternative fuels in heavy-duty trucking is once again making a strong case. Knowing from past experience that my average price for CNG was well below the $2.00-$2.25 mark for retail fuel at the pump and that a fixed negotiated price of $2.00 per DGE (diesel gallon equivalent) would not be hard to lock in, the question of whether or not an alternative fuel truck would benefit my operation again begins to come up more in the back of my mind. Don’t get me wrong about not loving my 8-9 MPG diesel truck, since it is the nicest truck by far I have had the pleasure of piloting!
Some of the things besides the price of diesel that make me consider this option are the advancements in technology that I see year after year at the ACT Expo that I attend. Not only have CNG tank configurations improved since my last CNG powered truck, but now the Cummins 12L has even been improved upon, in that it now has near-zero emission capability with the new ISX12N. As leaving a cleaner future for my offspring is always something I think about, this plays into my consideration as well. Although I have not toyed around with an electric truck yet, I am also interested in this technology platform when it comes to trucks and hope I will get a chance to drive my first one this year at ACT Expo!
As technology advances and local/regional operations like that of my own evolve out of their complete dependence on diesel as a fuel, I always look forward to see what lies in store at ACT Expo for the latest in alternative fuel trucks. Although a lot of focus in my past experience at this show trended towards medium and light duty trucks, I have a sneaking suspicion that some waves are going to be made this year in the heavy-duty portion of this show as well. As it seems there is no hope for diminishing pump prices at the diesel pumps, keep an eye out for what’s to come from alternative fuels.
With many promises and much speculation out there as to which technology will come in on top, where do you think the chips are going to fall? What technology do you see pulling ahead this year and which do you think will fall to the wayside? Be sure to look out for my follow-up after the show to highlight what I saw, including lots of pictures from ACT Expo 2018!