“We at Ryder really believe that natural gas is a long- term sustainable solution for commercial transportation,” Ryder System chairman and CEO Greg Swienton said in the keynote address at ACT Expo 2013 in Long Beach this past Thursday.
“Price volatility is here to stay,” he said of fuel prices. With diesel trending up and natural gas down, it’s time to commit to the cleaner alternative.
“There’s probably going to be a meaningful differential for an indeterminate amount of time,” Swienton said.
“This is a long-term sustainable value proposition.”
One customer is already reckoning savings of $40,000 to $50,000 per vehicle per year. “That covers a lot of break-even expense,” Swienton said.
Ryder pioneered natural gas truck leasing with its announcement of a $39 million, government-supported initiative at ACT Expo 2011 (after first getting seriously interested in 2009, Swienton said Thursday). The Ryder move was “the largest investment of its kind and the first in the truck rental and leasing business,” he said.
Ryder has since extended the program to CNG trucks in Arizona and Michigan, and last week in Long Beach said it would buy new truck types (see item at right).
Conventional truck lessees have the option to test natural gas under a program called “Flex-to-Green.”
“If you can rent or lease,” Swienton said, “you can test the technology without [having to make] a big business bet.” Ryder’s full service, maintenance-and-all offering, he said, is “ideally suited for a new product like natural gas.”
“Fueling infrastructure will pick up whether or not we have significant government intervention,” Swienton said. “The infrastructure will be there because the economics will support it.”
Swienton said that as Ryder builds new service facilities for its 200,000 unit fleet, they will “in every case” be outfitted for natural gas vehicles work.
He also said that paying for imported oil is “lunacy.”
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