Transportation Industry Examining Alternative Fuels
Environmental concerns are nothing new in the 21st century, with all sectors looking for effective alternative means of not only accomplishing their specific tasks, but in a cost-effective and eco-friendly methodology. Utilizing technology to cut down costs (i.e.: overhead) is an easy yet effective way from saving money for both the company and the purchasing entity; DGD Hazmat, a 3PL company, and their on-demand digital solutions is an excellent example of this. With the trucking industry growing, regardless of a shortage of drivers, many are looking to invest in updated trucking technology. Particularly in physical assets, the sales of Class 8 natural gas fueled trucks and grants and/or incentives for those using alternative fuels are both expanding; the latter arriving by tax breaks and expanded legal documentation request deadlines.
“We are going to need more near-zero and zero-emissions trucks throughout the country in the near future,” said Joe Lyou, CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air and a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District in California. “The national situation is pretty bleak.” He and other speakers addressed the 2018 Shippers Forum convened by independent engine maker Cummins Inc. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oct. 15-16. Roger Gilroy, from TransportationTopics.com, reports- "According to Lyou, more than one in three people in the United States live in a county that is in violation of the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone, which at ground level is a harmful air pollutant. He noted that the Cummins Westport ISX12N natural gas engine on display at the event is certified to 0.02 gram per brake horsepower-hour, or 90% cleaner than Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 engine emissions standard for nitrogen-oxide levels from trucks." 3PL companies, notably hazmat compliant providers, must take note of these figures and metrics.
While growth is cited for alternative fuels and green technologies, particularly within the trucking sector, diesel is still the most efficient and cost-effective fuel and will be for some time to come, Kary Schaefer, general manager of marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America, told attendees at the Green Truck Summit here last week. “Green means much more than tailpipe emissions,” Schaefer said. “It means running an efficient business. It means that you can run a sustainable business infrastructure, that you can drive cost and waste out and sustainability in,” she said. "There are opportunities for fleets to gain efficiencies by incorporating “green” fuel technologies into their operations, whether natural gas, battery-electric vehicles or others. But because each alternative to diesel brings with it issues that affect its business case, diesel will continue to be the go-to fuel for the foreseeable future, Schaefer said."
As reported by Jim Galligan, from TransportationTopics.com- "Schaefer noted that two of the most talked-about alternatives to diesel — battery-electric and natural gas — have a place in some fleet operations, but their inherent limitations require that fleets must examine many issues. For example, when exploring battery-electric vehicles fleets should consider four factors, she said: range, weight, cost and charging. The vehicle’s range can be affected by variations due to temperature, loads and speed. Additionally, the weight of the vehicle affects the range needed. Greater range requires more batteries, and “battery packs are heavy and affect what you can carry,” she said."
Fuel prices (for both diesel and gasoline) have been rather volatile in the last few quarters due to a number of factors (namely the tariff regulations between the United States, the Middle East, Russia, and East Asia), resulting for an internal push for more stable sources by the 3PL industry. As of October 2018, diesel is at $3.380 (cost down by roughly 1.4 cents) and gas at $2.841 (cost down by roughly 3.8 cents)- as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Even though natural gas is readily available and is a notably viable option in many areas of the country with near-zero emissions restrictions, the calculated cost of natural gas vehicles and the necessary infrastructure are still the biggest hurdles for both private and public-based fleets. In the end, the relatively high energy density of diesel compared with alternatives means diesel will continue to be the trucking industry’s workhorse. “For the different fuel technologies, each has its place in the market. But these will have to be combined with diesel for a very long time to come. It’s here to stay and part of fleet operations for a long time,” she said.