Freightliner Trucks has introduced its first factory-built natural gas truck-- the Business Class M2 112 NG. Powered by a Cummins Westport ISL G engine, the vehicle could save up to $6,000 a year in fuel and operating costs over a diesel equivalent, said the OEM.

Customers may also be able to take advantage of tax incentives available for alternative fuel vehicles when purchasing this model. “The M2 112 is a versatile and hard-working truck, and adding a natural gas option only enhances its efficiency,” said Melissa Clausen, director of product marketing.

The engine is an 8.9 liter stoichiometric cooled-exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) powerplant available with up to 320 hp that meets EPA 2010 emissions standards. According to Freightliner, it offers 85% lower NOx emissions than the C Gas Plus engine, features the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class with an optimized turbocharger, and includes a maintenance-free exhaust system with three-way catalyst.

“Natural gas technology has come a long way,” said Clausen. “Buses have been using it for years, but the next generation natural gas powertrains have more power because less air is needed for combustion. The technology simply burns cleaner.”

Freightliner Trucks added that in 2009, it will also offer a CNG version of the M2 112, followed by a CNG single-axle tractor, 4x2 and 6x2 truck, and vocational configurations.

“This is a great opportunity for Cummins Westport to partner with Freightliner, one of North America’s leading truck manufacturers,” said Roe East, president of Cummins Westport. “By launching the Cummins Westport ISL G in the M2 112 tractor, Freightliner will be able to provide customers with clean, economical gas power for a wide range of applications. By the end of 2010, Freightliner will have a complete Cummins Westport-powered lineup with configuration options for more than 90% of truck applications in North America.”