Sales of natural gas trucks and buses will expand steadily over the remainder of the decade, nearing 1 million in sales from 2012 through 2019, according to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice.

The report said because trucks and buses use significant amounts of fuel and tend to emit high levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs), diesel and natural gas (NG) vehicles are increasingly attractive options in commercial markets. At the same time, the rebounding construction industry is pushing growth in the overall truck market while cities and municipalities look to expand their public transit systems. 

“NG vehicles emit substantially lower levels of GHGs, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxide than either gasoline- or diesel-powered trucks and buses,” said senior research analyst Dave Hurst. “What’s more, compared to diesel engines, natural gas provides a financial benefit.  In most cases, the higher incremental cost of an NG vehicle is typically recovered, due to lower fuel costs, within two to seven years.”

NG trucks typically run on compressed natural gas (CNG) because their tanks weigh less and are less costly than those for liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG trucks, however, are increasingly being used as longer-range vehicles (400 mi. or more compared to the 150 to 300 mi. range for CNG vehicles) and are seeing higher growth rates than CNG trucks (17% versus 14% in heavy duty trucks), the study finds.

The worldwide breakdown of refueling stations is 117 LNG refueling stations versus 20,233 CNG refueling stations. About 45% of the LNG refueling stations are located in the United States, even though China has the largest annual sales for LNG fueled trucks, with 3,020 vehicle sales in 2012, according to the report.

The report, “Natural Gas Trucks and Buses”, analyzes the global market opportunity for natural gas vehicles in the medium and heavy-duty truck and bus markets. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the current market, fuel availability, demand drivers, policy factors, and technology issues associated with the growth of these vehicles. Key industry players are profiled in depth, and worldwide NG vehicle sales, vehicle segment sales, and cumulative refueling station availability are forecast through 2019.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Pike Research website at http://www.pikeresearch.com/.