Agility-Hexagon Package for 700-Mile Range & Lower Cost
As Freightliner Claims 53% Natural Gas Truck Market Share
Freightliner and Saddle Creek Transportation are talking up CNG-fueled Cascadia 113 tractors with a new fuel tank assembly that’s expected to yield true 700-mile range and, with lower costs because of fewer tanks, an ROI as low as three years.
The key, says Saddle Creek president Mike DelBovo, is a “shorter, fatter” compressed natural gas fuel cylinder that allows the back-of-cab tank array from Agility Fuel Systems to fit without any horizontal protrusion, significantly improving tractor aerodynamics.
“When complete, this will mark the first time a natural gas system will be fully enclosed behind the side and back of cab aerodynamic fairings,” Freightliner said Tuesday.
500 Pounds Lighter?
Saddle Creek disclosed an order for ten Cascadia 113s with new Agility tank package at ACT Expo 2013 last month in Washington, D.C. (F&F, June 29). The improved aerodynamics of what DelBovo calls the Generation IV design should allow range of 700 miles with just three back-of-cab cylinders.
They’ll hold 120 diesel gallon equivalents, eliminating the rail mounted tanks on the Generation III truck (five tanks in all holding 155 DGEs).
In addition to better aerodynamics, “We’re projecting that it’ll save as much as 500 pounds,” DelBovo said.
Saddle Creek already has more than 100 CNG Freightliners out of a fleet of 430 tractors. The firm has a Clean Energy Fuels CNG installation at its Lakeland headquarters, fuels with Clean Energy in Atlanta too, and is a lead customer at the new AGL-Langdale station (F&F, July 23) in Valdosta, Ga., near the Florida line.
9 Million CNG Miles This Year
Saddle Creek logged 3.5 million CNG miles in 2012 and is on track for upwards of 9 million CNG miles this year. DelBovo said he prefers CNG to liquefied natural gas because it’s cheaper, safer, and is delivered by pipeline – important in hurricane-prone Florida where operators otherwise have to keep extra fuel on hand.
He emphasized the importance of driver training at a Freightliner gathering in California’s Napa Valley on Tuesday, and said that his ROI is difficult to gauge because customers generally want to share in it.
Rebate for CNG Miles
Some, he said, the ones who share the up-front investment, “get a rebate for the miles we run on natural gas.” He said he’d like to see a true three-year ROI, and a price premium for CNG trucks of about 30 to 35% over diesel.
Pioneers like Saddle Creek and other customers have brought Freightliner a 53% market share in conventional (non-cabover) Class 8 heavy duty natural gas trucks, Daimler marketing and strategy GM David Hames said in a media briefing today.
“We’ve got a dominant position,” he said. Some 2,700 Freightliner natural gas trucks have been sold since 2008.
Customers and potential customers include Central Freight Lines, Gemini, J.J. Taylor, M&M Cartage, Paper Transport Inc., Penske, Ryder System, Swift, Sysco, and Waste Management.
Freightliner Installs the Fuel Systems
Hames and vocational natural gas sales chief Bob Carrick emphasized that Freightliner is the only major manufacturer to do CNG fuel system installations in-house. All of the firm’s Business Class vehicles built at Mount Holly, S.C. have factory fuel systems (using kits from Agility) and in-house installation is being phased in for Cascadia 113 tractors built in Cleveland – where natural gas fueling capability is being installed.
Freightliner announced Tuesday that its CNG and LNG-fueled Cascadia tractors are being made available with 48-inch sleeper cabs, and that LED headlamps are being made standard across the Cascadia line.
New Axle Option for the CNG SD114
Carrick noted that production of trucks with the 400-horsepower version of the 11.9-liter ISX12 G engine from Cummins Westport will commence in about two weeks.
Freightliner has also kicked off a new demo program, with four natural gas-fueled Cascadia tractors for the U.S. and one in Canada available for customer trials. And the manufacturer is adding a new axle option for the heavy duty SD114 vocational truck – which was the first Freightliner model ever to be offered with natural gas as an option from the initial production run.
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Source: Fleets & Fuels with Freightliner and Saddle Creek in Yountville, Calif.
Saddle Creek president Mike DelBovo explains how the dual inlets on the Agility Fuel Systems CNG tank assembly allow fueling from both time-fill and fast-fill dispensers.