Natural Gas As Vehicle Fuel: Why Trucks Make More Sense Than Cars

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Natural Gas-powered Kenworth truck (Image: Flickr user TruckPR)

Natural Gas-powered Kenworth truck (Image: Flickr user TruckPR)

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Natural gas passenger cars have never really taken off in the U.S. like some thought they might.

While the fuel is hugely popular in countries like Brazil, gasoline has always reigned supreme in North America. Or diesel, if you're a long-haul trucker--though that could be about to change.

Natural gas is already becoming a major power source across the U.S, but the trucking industry is quickly turning to its two major benefits--cleaner running and lower pricing.

The former is particularly important environmentally, given the billions of miles truckers drive every year delivering produce to each corner of the country. But as an industry that spends vast amounts on fuel, the potential for something cheaper is highly attractive.

Cheaper fuel, cheaper produce

The New York Times reports that natural gas fuel prices are as much as $1.50 per gallon equivalent cheaper than diesel. With eight million medium and heavy-duty trucks on U.S. roads, the savings for the industry would be enormous.

If you're wondering, "How does this benefit me?" then consider some of the products you use on a daily basis.

The vast majority of your food and other items--including the computer you're reading this on--probably reached you via a truck.

If that industry can reduce its costs by $1.50 per gallon equivalent, some of those savings can be passed on to the consumer--the whole supply chain becomes more affordable, so the cost of products need not rise as quickly.

Less foreign oil... less oil in general

The other benefits are even further-reaching.

The industry consumes three million barrels of oil per day, the equivalent of three quarters of the oil imported into the U.S. Roughly two-thirds of the diesel used as transportation fuel is currently used by three million 18-wheelers.

Swap some of those diesel vehicles for gas, and it means less money spent on imports, and more money kept inside the country--before you even consider the environmental benefits of using gas rather than oil.

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