Just eight months after deploying 27 Kenworth T440 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, Monarch Beverage is committing further to the fuel. The Indianapolis-based beer and wine distributor has announced it will convert 85% of its trucks to CNG power by 2015.

“We’ve made a long-term commitment toward CNG,” said Fred Dufour, senior vice president of Monarch.  “We have placed additional orders for Kenworth T440s, and by 2015, 90 of our 105 trucks will be CNG-powered. The diesel-powered trucks we don’t replace with CNG run too few miles to warrant a CNG engine.”

Dufour said the company’s fleet consumes nearly 1 million gals. of diesel per year. He said Monarch expects to cut its fuel costs by 60% once the conversion is complete. 

“And, that translates to a $2 to $3 million dollar savings in fuel per year,” said Dufour.

“We have been running 27 of the T440s since June of 2012 and they’re doing great,” he said.  “And, other than having spark ignition and spark plugs to deal with, and a different kind of engine oil, there really is no difference in maintenance practices.  From a fuel tank standpoint, they just need to be monitored and maintained, but our technicians have been trained and certified for that duty.” 

The T440 trucks are powered by 325 hp., 8.9L ISL G engines.  

 “Our drivers have been very excited about the Kenworth T440s – they’re great trucks to drive,” Dufour said. “The new 400-hp., 12L ISX12 G engines on order for new Kenworth T800s will power our over-the-road fleet where we load out at 79,000 GVW.”

To support the CNG transformation, the company is building its own CNG fueling station with two islands in the Indianapolis area.  Scheduled to open March 15, the ‘fast fill’ station will deliver more than 11 gals. a minute.

“Some people think fueling with CNG is an issue, but it’s really not,” said Dufour.  “There is some training involved since CNG is a different fuel, but we really have no concern.  We’ve had no problem fueling with the temporary station we have set up on our grounds.  With the price of fuel and the cost of our $2.3 million fuel station amortized over three years, our net cost per gallon is $1.50.  After that period, we’re just paying for the cost of fuel.”

Monarch delivers 15.5 million cases of beer each year and another 1 million cases of wine.  The company employs 650 people.