What I was able to take part in this week went beyond my usual comfort zone and helped me to better understand the benefits that CNG trucks and natural gas in general can have in areas other than just general freight hauling. I was invited to put my truck on display at the World Ag Expo 2017 in Tulare, CA to better demonstrate what the Freightliner Cascadia powered by the Cummins ISX12-G is capable of. Even though I am used to talking trucks at large truck shows all over this great nation, the crowd that gathers for this show is not my typical truck show crowd.
Upon pulling into the expo center to bring the truck in for setup, only one word can describe my first impression every year of the stuff on display…“Whoa!” Where most people think a truck is an big expensive piece of machinery to put on display, these massive farm tractors dwarf my truck in price and size comparison! When you are showcasing such large pieces of farm and agricultural equipment, you take up a lot of room with these life-size, giant Tonka-like dream pieces of equipment on display and the show grounds is easily 4-5 times larger than even the largest truck show I attend all year.
Being that most of my experience in my nearly 15 years of trucking revolved around more common forms of hauling like general freight, bulk commodities, and reefers, I am always interested to figure out where my conventional CNG truck will fit in within other sectors of trucking and truck related industries. Never would I have guessed, in previous years or this year, that my truck would quickly draw steady crowds rivaling and even surpassing some of the largest booths at the show. With most patrons coming from all areas of the California central valley, in the heart of California’s most fertile growing areas, these people were also very aware that their area was known for some of the poorest air quality around. This is something the folks hosting the booth I was in were very passionate about helping to change, by helping educate the expo attendees on the use of natural gas as a clean alternative fuel.
In the end, the reception to natural gas powered truck technology was well received again this year. Whether I was helping someone better understand how these vehicles play in to current wave of CARB rules, or helping to better explain the ROI (return on investment) for a particular fleet’s specific operation, it was nice to see this group of mainly milk haulers, livestock haulers, and crop haulers react in a positive way to my CNG Freightliner. One thing was very clear to me through my observations, in that some of the people I encountered are certainly willing to look at natural gas as the clean air technology of the future, but that it is here today and that California’s central valley just might be seeing some more natural gas trucks on their roadways in the near future! A special thanks to all of the great people I was able to meet during the expo who took an interest in the natural gas technology. Most of all, a very special “thank you” goes out from me to The Southern California Gas Company for allowing me to showcase my truck in their booth at the World Ag Expo 2017!