More natural gas. Less diesel. That's a quick synopsis of a study by Navigant Research on future fueling trends for trucks.

Powertrains that are either plug-in or run on natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (i.e. propane or autogas) represent a small minority of global medium- and heavy-duty trucks but will account for 14 percent of those trucks (about one in seven) by 2035. Mind you, diesel-fueled powertrains will account for about 76 percent of those trucks by that year, but at least that's down from the 80 percent figure today, Navigant says.

This trend is good from a standpoint of both reducing oil dependency and trucking costs, given the mileage truckers rack up and the extremely low fuel economy of these vehicles. In recent years, truckmakers like Freightliner, Thomas Built Bus and International have started making vehicles that can run on CNG, which in some areas of the country costs about half as much as diesel. International calculated that some companies would be able to save more than $150,000 in refueling costs during the six-year lifetime of a truck because of lower costs. Emissions from LPG and CNG trucks are also 20 percent to 30 percent less than diesel emissions.

The Navigant report doesn't appear to address whether enough CNG and LPG stations will open to support such an increase in such powertrains in the US, but one can only hope. Take a look at Navigant's press release below.
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Fourteen Percent of Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles Sold in 2035 Will Run on Alternative Fuels, Forecasts Navigant Research

Natural gas has advantages over other types of alternative fuel, report finds

BOULDER, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Medium and heavy duty vehicles (MHDVs) represent less than 5 percent of the total vehicle market today, and the vast majority of these use conventional internal combustion engines (ICE) powered by either gasoline or diesel. That is changing as less expensive alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, such as natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG – also known as propane or autogas), and electricity make inroads in the market. Click to tweet: According to a new report from Navigant Research, worldwide sales of alternative fuel vehicles will reach 14 percent of total sales of medium and heavy duty vehicles by 2035.

"Attractive business cases for medium and heavy duty alternative fuel vehicles are emerging across varying segments of the market"

"Attractive business cases for medium and heavy duty alternative fuel vehicles are emerging across varying segments of the market," says Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant Research. "Natural gas has a significant advantage over most alternative fuels, in that low fuel costs and advances in infrastructure for both liquefied natural gas and fast-fill compressed natural gas make the fuel competitive in all market segments, including heavy duty long-haul trucking."

The total number of MHDVs in use worldwide will nearly double between 2014 and 2035, according to the report. Unlike light duty vehicles, most of today's MHDVs are fueled by diesel fuel. While diesel will remain the primary fuel choice of MHDVs throughout the forecast period, the percentage of MHDVs powered by diesel is expected to fall from more than 79 percent in 2014 to 76 percent in 2035.

The report, "Transportation Forecast: Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles", analyzes the global MHDV market in seven segments: conventional ICE vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles, propane autogas vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles. Forecasts for two segments fueled primarily by petroleum derivatives (ICE and hybrid electric vehicles) are broken out by region and by fuel: gasoline or diesel. Global market forecasts for sales and conversions and the number of vehicles in use, segmented by country, drivetrain, and primary fuel, extend through 2035. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

About Navigant Research

Navigant Research, the dedicated research arm of Navigant, provides market research and benchmarking services for rapidly changing and often highly regulated industries. In the energy sector, Navigant Research focuses on in-depth analysis and reporting about global clean technology markets. The team's research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Utilities, Smart Transportation, and Smart Buildings sectors. Additional information about Navigant Research can be found at www.navigantresearch.com.

About Navigant

Navigant is a specialized, global expert services firm dedicated to assisting clients in creating and protecting value in the face of critical business risks and opportunities. Through senior level engagement with clients, Navigant professionals combine technical expertise in Disputes and Investigations, Economics, Financial Advisory and Management Consulting, with business pragmatism in the highly regulated Construction, Energy, Financial Services and Healthcare industries to support clients in addressing their most critical business needs. More information about Navigant can be found at www.navigant.com.

* The information contained in this press release concerning the report, "Transportation Forecast: Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles," is a summary and reflects Navigant Research's current expectations based on market data and trend analysis. Market predictions and expectations are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release or the report. Please refer to the full report for a complete understanding of the assumptions underlying the report's conclusions and the methodologies used to create the report. Neither Navigant Research nor Navigant undertakes any obligation to update any of the information contained in this press release or the report.