Innovation has always been a part of Freightliner Trucks’ core DNA.  That history of innovation with regard to alterative fuels in particular goes all the way back to the 1950’s and 60’s. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, natural gas was brought into the mix as Freightliner looked to offer customers a cleaner burning alternative to diesel.  A few hundred natural gas-fueled FL-series and Century Class tractors were sold back then, but sales didn’t really take off, due to a number of factors.  First, the performance of the available engines was not consistent, and there was a shortage of facilities and technicians that knew how to service these products. Another reason that natural gas didn’t take off back then, is that diesel prices at the time were very low at about a $1.50 per gallon. So why spend additional money on the incremental costs of a natural gas vehicle when you’re not going to save much in the way of fuel costs?
With the introduction of the Cummins Westport ISL G five-plus years ago, natural gas has become a more viable option for on-highway trucking fleets, regional haul in particular. We have engine technology that is much more reliable, a truck and an engine that is factory built with a factory warranty, and an improved service network.  And, now there is also a wide disparity –about $2 per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) difference – in fuel prices between natural gas and diesel. So, now you have reliable products and the opportunity for significant fuel cost savings. 
In the near future, natural gas may make more sense for longer haul applications, as the natural gas fueling infrastructure begins to sprout up along the nation’s freight corridors.  Not only is the fueling infrastructure beginning to grow, but truck OEMs are designing vehicles that fit the needs of fleets running longer distances.  Freightliner offers on its Cascadia a 400 hp engine designed to haul 80,000 lbs, a 48" sleeper cab*, manual transmissions, and fuel saving aerodynamic features*.  A natural gas tractor like the Cascadia with the Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine can now be spec’d to fit the needs of your application., These factors make a strong business case for considering a natural gas tractor.
 Freightliner’s natural gas tractor options available today include:

  • M2 112 Natural Gas
  • The spark-ignited Cummins Westport ISL G 320 HP/1000 lb ft, featuring
  • Maintenance-free three way catalyst, etc
  • Allison 3000 Series
  • Factory-installed compressed natural gas (CNG) -75 and 60 DGE capacity – and liquefied natural gas (LNG) –150 (70 DGE) and 119 gallon (55 DGE) capacity – fuel tanks
  • The tractor works for various applications including regional haul, distribution, utility, and refuse.
  • Cascadia 113 Natural Gas
  • First “pre-build” back in March 2013, full production began August 2013
  • Cummins Westport ISX12 G up to 400 HP/1450 lb ft
  • Same technology as ISL G, spark ignited
  • Compressed natural gas (CNG) –up to 190 DGE capacity – and liquefied natural gas (LNG) – up to 300 gallon (140 DGE) capacity – fuel tank configurations.  Factory installed fuel tanks beginning late Q1 2014

So what are the advantages of natural gas vehicles?

  • Fuel Price: The main factor driving interest in natural gas fuel is the delta in price between diesel and natural gas.  While average diesel costs are back in the $4.00 per gallon range, the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel has averaged about $1.80 per diesel gallon equivalent.  Even with up to 10-15% degradation in fuel economy vs. diesel, natural gas fuel can save you thousands of dollars per year in fuel costs depending on the application.
  • Fewer Emissions: Natural gas vehicles are cleaner than traditional vehicles, producing on average 20% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than comparable diesel-fueled vehicles. Lower Noise Levels: Heavy-duty natural gas vehicles have a decibel level that is 10 decibels quieter than comparable diesel vehicles.
  • Decrease in foreign oil dependency: Utilizing natural gas means we will reduce dependence on foreign oil, as natural gas is a domestically sourced fuel.

Today, natural gas can be a smart choice for your application; it provides fuel cost savings, customization for your application, and sustainability from alternative fuel solutions.
*Coming in 2014

Natural Gas Would you consider choosing natural gas for your next tractor?


Comments (4)

Greg Treinen

As segment manager, medium duty & alternate fuels for Freightliner Trucks, Greg Treinen is responsible for driving marketing programs and communications promoting Freightliner Trucks’ medium duty and alternate fuels product lines. Appointed to this role in 2009, Mr. Treinen is responsible for developing medium duty and alternate fuel-specific content for marketing communications, web site, dealer tools and training, trade show strategy, and sales programs. Prior to his current role, Mr. Treinen served as the lead market planning analyst for Daimler Trucks North America, where he was responsible for developing the company market and internal sales volume forecasts, plus market analysis and market research. Mr. Treinen has also served as a used truck acquisition analyst with Daimler Trucks Remarketing. Mr. Treinen has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Oregon and a masters of business administration (MBA) degree from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the highest recognition a business student can receive in a business program accredited by AACSB International.


Robert-I watched a video of one of our trucks burn down. Our driver rear ended another semi at highway speed and walked away from it. It was near Chicago near the intersection of I290 and I294. The truck was completely burned to the ground except for the tanks. The fuel burned off just as it was designed to. The video shows the flames going up and back away from the truck. While of course we hate the loss of the truck-we are happy that the driver walked away-a diesel truck would probably have burned in that accident too-but the video was amazing.

November 10, 2013 8:08:49 AM

Not a proponent of the methods used to collect natural gas (fracking). While natural gas may well be a "green" gas to use, there is nothing green about how it is collected. From an environmental standpoint, fracking is probably the worst thing to ever happen to this country and our natural water supply. Check out the documentaries on Netflix sometime called "Gaslands" and "Gaslands 2".

October 26, 2013 7:21:48 AM

Are there any safety concerns in long haul between diesel and CNG?

October 24, 2013 12:43:03 PM

My company is an innovator with CNG. We are using them in long haul operations. The biggest advantage is price stability.

October 24, 2013 5:44:49 AM