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UPS Adds to its Natural Gas Truck Fleet

UPS has bought an additional 48 heavy tractor trucks equipped to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The company expects the new vehicles to produce 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the older generation diesel trucks they replace, and use 95 percent less diesel fuel. They will enter service this year.

The tractors are manufactured by Kenworth and powered by Westport HD Systems. They will initially pull trailers on a transit lane between Las Vegas and Ontario, Calif., alongside UPS’s 11 existing LNG tractors.

UPS is working with the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program to build an LNG fueling station in Las Vegas. Once that is completed, UPS will dramatically expand the number of long-haul Western routes using LNG vehicles, the company said.

“This is an important step not only from an environmental standpoint but from the viewpoint of U.S. energy security,” said Mike Britt, UPS’s director of vehicle engineering. “Liquefied natural gas is a cheaper, cleaner-burning fuel that is better for the environment and more sustainable than conventional diesel. And it’s also a fuel that’s in abundant supply inside the United States – it doesn’t have to be imported.”

UPS has a total of 1,914 alternative fuel vehicles in its global fleet, including 1,100 running on LNG or compressed natural gas (CNG). It also uses propane, electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

“But at the moment, LNG is the only suitable alternative to diesel for the really heavy, long-haul tractor trailers you see on the highway,” Britt said.

He said that because LNG is energy-dense, trucks can go further without refuelling. UPS’s 11 LNG tractors, all based in Ontario, Calif., can each make the round trip to Las Vegas on one tank of fuel.

UPS said it is the only private delivery company using this technology in its fleet. Since 2000, UPS’s green fleet has travelled more than 185 million miles, the company said.

The company has a target to improve the miles per gallon (mpg) performance of its entire U.S. package delivery fleet by 20 percent between 2000 and 2020.

Read more about how companies are using natural gas vehicles in the February 16 issue of EL Insights.

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