A cost comparison of average retail alternative-fuel prices over the past 20 years shows much fluctuation, with some fuel types, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) remaining slightly more stable...

A cost comparison of average retail alternative-fuel prices over the past 20 years shows much fluctuation, with some fuel types, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) remaining slightly more stable year-over-year. 

Photo: Alternative Fuels Data Center

It is well known that, in fleet, rarely is there going to be a one-size-fits-all solution. This is never truer than when looking at how a fleet fuels its vehicles. A decade ago, the choice was mostly gasoline or diesel, and the decision on the best fuel type for your operation was selected by how, where, and how much you drove. 

Today, the sky is the limit with alternative-fuels and propulsion systems being developed, tested, and produced for the work truck industry.

“Numerous OEMs offer alternative-fuel/propulsion variations for their respective work truck chassis. While the available variety is growing, it may not provide specific chassis configurations fleets want, which can lead purchasers to find other sources for chassis platforms on which to base their vehicles,” according to  Christopher Lyon, director of Fleet Relations for NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry.

However, Lyon warns that extreme care must be taken to ensure other sources of propulsion conversions to traditional chassis powertrains have been developed and certified as those qualified under the programs available through OEM channels. 

“Chassis manufacturers have formed partnerships with both technology suppliers and installers to ensure all applicable Federal/Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, emissions certification, and build quality standards are met in the final product, along with OEM warranty preservation. Additional propulsion conversion programs have been developed through OEM quality programs to enable combinations of alt-fuel chassis that might not be available from the factory but still ensure compliance to safety and emissions standards. In other words, choose alt fuel/propulsion vehicle partners strategically,” Lyon added. 

Making YOUR Choice

As noted, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to work trucks and alternative fuels. What works best for one utility may not work at all for another. A truck that is perfect for one construction fleet may not have the range needed for another. Infrastructure (to be discussed in-depth in January 2021) is probably one of the most significant determining factors a fleet has to consider aside from overall costs. 

A fleet must take into consideration its overall vehicle needs, budget, and goals before making a decision. Likely, one fuel type will not be your fleet’s “one and only,” but rather a combination of two or more options. 

I’m enjoying the number of new launches and billions of miles of real-world data coming out of these alt-fuel units. The December 2020 issue digs a little deeper into the alternative-fuels and propulsion options, looking at the current trends, myths and truths, maintenance advice, and a quick peek into the future for each fuel type. 

What do you think about alt-fuel trucks today? Are you operating any in your fleet operation and want to share your challenges or successes?

E-mail me, let’s chat! 
Lauren Fletcher

About the author
Lauren Fletcher

Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor - Fleet, Trucking & Transportation

Lauren Fletcher is Executive Editor for the Fleet, Trucking & Transportation Group. She has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006. Her bright personality helps lead the team's content strategy and focuses on growth, education, and motivation.

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