Ryder and Southern California Gas Company have teamed up to offer free CNG truck rentals to qualifying fleets in the region.
The program, which started Oct. 1 and ends next month, aims to show fleet managers the eco-friendly and fuel cost advantages of CNG trucks. To date, 16 companies have agreed to try out the medium and heavy duty trucks provided by Ryder.
“So far, we’ve received positive feedback from our customers that the CNG trucks are a sound investment with similar performance to diesel trucks,” says Kristine Lloyd, project manager of SoCalGas’ capital projects outreach.
“In addition, customers report that drivers benefit from the reduced noise in the cab (compared to diesel trucks) and no diesel smell.”
Ryder reports that Los Angeles-based SoCalGas approached them with the idea of starting a free trial CNG program.
“This is currently the only CNG demonstration program we have in place, however we see opportunities to work with other utilities on similar programs,” says Allen Nielsen, Ryder’s director of business development.
“We’ve seen great interest from both existing customers and prospects who have taken advantage of the opportunity to test these vehicles in their operations.”
Fleets in Southern California with trucks that travel at least 60,000 miles each year and consume a minimum of 10,000 gallons of diesel annually are eligible to apply. The program will cover the cost of fuel through a payment card that can be used at most of the 125 CNG fueling stations located across Southern California. Fleets can try out the trucks for up to two weeks.
With lower emissions and lower fuel prices than diesel, CNG continues to attract more interest. However, some fleets have been reluctant to put the alternative fuel to the test.
“We’re hearing from many customers who are interested in taking advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas, but are hesitant to change to an unfamiliar technology,” says Rodger Scwecke, SoCalGas vice president of customer solutions.
“Our truck rental program gives customers the opportunity to experience how the latest natural gas trucks provide tremendous benefits with similar performance to diesel trucks.”
Four different models of CNG-fueled trucks will be provided through Ryder, whose own natural gas fleet has logged over 40 million miles since 2011.
In addition to its lower emissions, CNG also has another advantage over diesel: price. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association diesel prices in California are averaging $2.80 per gallon. SoCalGas CNG is averaging $2.25 per gallon, or 55 cents less per gallon than diesel.
According to Natural Gas Vehicles for America, the number of CNG stations has increased dramatically over the past three years. There are now 1,564 CNG and 112 natural gas stations operating in the U.S.
“While only a little more than half of these stations are ‘public access,’ investments are being made to upgrade older stations to increase capacity and improve the fueling experience,” according to a statement posted on NGVA’s website. “New stations are being built with an emphasis on creating a traditional fueling experience for the customer.”
For more information on the CNG truck trial program visit socalgas.com and search for NGV. Additional details, including program rules, limitations and application information, are available at the site. Demonstration vehicles are available on a first come, first served basis.