I am often asked if there are any things that stick out in particular that I miss about driving diesel-powered trucks. I would be lying if I said that there weren't at least a couple things. One of the main things I miss is being able to go a week without having to fill up my truck with fuel running locally around L.A. Even with the challenge of having to fill up my truck every 2 to 3 days, I find it easier to focus on the things I do not miss when I was driving a diesel-powered truck. It is easy for the positive features to overshadow the negatives of my CNG truck, since things such as volatile fuel prices, DPF regens, DEF fluid, and long fuel island waits are pretty much a thing of my past!
This stunning revelation of thought occurred to me this past week during two separate occasions fueling at a site that is new to me. I have changed my home operating terminal since becoming an independent and moved it closer to where I live, causing me to have now mapped out a few new stations to fuel at. This particular new station was larger than I had become accustomed to while fueling CNG in the past, with eight fueling nozzles each pumping out 3600 psi of compressed natural gas. The exact moment of realizing some of the things I do not miss about driving a diesel-powered truck came to me when I noticed just how crowded with customers this station was. As you can see from the pictures, I did not have to wait behind any other trucks fueling in front of me or get stuck behind someone taking their 30-minute lunch break while parked at the fuel island! As are matter-of-fact, of my two separate visits to the station last week, I encountered only two other vehicles on the first visit and then none on the second.
In the eleven months I have been driving a CNG-powered Freightliner Cascadia, I have only had to wait for a fuel pump three times. In the beginning, I thought a lot of my time was going to be wasted in the increased fueling frequency and CNG’s false reputation for taking forever to fuel. Quite the contrary however, there has been no measurable impact on my bottom line from the need to fuel more often than my previous diesel-powered Freightliner. Although the margin of profitability between CNG and diesel has been closed a little bit due to lower than average diesel prices, it still remains a profitable option for my operation. Not to mention, diesel fuel really can’t be expected to stay at record low prices either! Thinking back to all the time wasted in the past waiting in line for 15-20 minutes for an open fuel pump, only to have that same truck in front of me pull forward and park for another 20-30 minutes while they do who-knows-what in the truck stop, makes me realize just how fortunate I am to not have to deal with that scenario anymore. The profitability is one major part of the CNG equation…the convenience is another part in itself!