Despite some design challenges along the way, Toyota Transport, the automaker’s in-house vehicle transportation trucking company, now has its first car hauler that runs on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
The truck, based in Long Beach, Calif., emits 85 percent less overall particulate matter and 10 percent less carbon dioxide than a conventional diesel hauler.
The CNG truck was commissioned by Toyota and designed and built in a joint collaboration with Peterbilt and Cottrell, Inc.
“We started exploring the CNG option more than three years ago, and it has been worth the wait,” says Kirk Welch, senior analyst, Toyota transport compliance. “Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and will help Toyota advance our environmental efforts to reduce fleet emissions.”
Initially, the placement of alternate fuel tanks presented a challenge for car haulers utilizing a 9-car trailer with an over-the-cab head rack, according to a Toyota press release.
However, working with Toyota’s specifications, Peterbilt and Cottrell were able to develop a tractor/trailer combination that accommodated the alternate fuel tanks, without compromising the extra vehicle hauling space of the head rack.
The achievement marks the first full car hauler trailer with head rack that Cottrell has manufactured onto a CNG truck.
“Cottrell, Inc. is proud to help Toyota become the first domestic carrier to employ a CNG fueled car hauler,” says Adam Strong, Cottrell’s western regional sales manager.
“This was a first for Toyota Logistics but also for Cottrell. We were able to work with Peterbilt and Agility Fuel Systems to alter the design of our head rack to accommodate the natural gas tanks while still maximizing payload.”
Peterbilt and Cottrell also helped build 30 CNG car haulers that are being used to transport Honda vehicles from its Lincoln, Alabama factory. However, Toyota’s CNG car hauler hit the road in November, making it the first company to utilize the alternative fuel for that purpose.
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Toyota Transport’s southern California Vehicle Delivery Operations in Long Beach and Mira Loma have 32 trucks in service, and the group delivers approximately 200,000 vehicles annually.
Most of its car hauler trucks average more than 100,000 miles per year. With plans to deploy the truck locally out of Long Beach as a test, the company will evaluate the performance as well as compare the efficiency versus the current diesel trucks. The CNG truck is expected to drive an average of 7,000 to 8,000 miles per month.
The purchase of the truck advances Toyota’s own environmental endeavors and efforts in its support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SmartWay program, the public-private initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution created by freight transportation in corporate supply chains.
Toyota’s environmental commitment has been widely recognized, most recently with a SmartWay Excellence Award/Truck Carrier from the EPA in October 2015.