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2/19/2015 12:20:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Cost of Diesel Shouldn't Deter Fleets From Alt-Fuel Vehicles, Industry Execs Say

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The current lower cost of diesel fuel should not deter fleets from purchasing alternate-fuel vehicles, a panel of industry executives said at a session of the Technology & Maintenance Council annual conference here.

Using the right strategy, motor carriers who purchase natural gas and other alternate-fuel vehicles can get a good return on investment and also gain business from shippers wanting green fleets to haul their goods, the executives said.

Erik Neandross, CEO of the consulting firm Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, said that his company has assisted truckers in finding ways to purchase natural gas and other alternate-fuel vehicles through federal, state and local grants, as well as with rebates and tax incentives.

“As you know, these trucks are expensive, the stations are expensive and the shops can be expensive,” Neandross said at a Feb. 17 technical session entitled “Green Trucks, Green Shops, Green Incentives.”

Financial assistance helps offset the cost of the purchase of alternate-fuel programs, Neandross said.

Using cheap diesel and more expensive diesel cost comparisons, Neandross concluded that that the natural-gas trucks save 45% in fuel costs over diesel when the diesel price is high and 25% when diesel is low.

Neandross said that natural-gas tractors are about $65,000 more expensive to purchase than diesel. But with a $25,000 purchase grant or other incentive, it takes two to three years to get a return on investment. Without the financial assistance, the return on investment of a natural-gas vehicle is about 4 1/2  years, he said.

“So in the low-fuel price environment, the grants ... are particularly important to help keep these projects moving and allow these investments to be continually made,” Neandross said.

Panelists from UPS Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Ryder System Inc. also indicated they have had  generally positive results adding alternate-fuel vehicles to their fleets.

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By Eric Miller
Staff Reporter

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