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UPS Expands Natural Gas Fleet

UPS today announced it will purchase about 700 liquefied natural gas 18-wheelers and build four refueling stations to serve its heavy-weight rigs by the end of 2014.

UPS has more than 1,000 natural gas vehicles worldwide. Natural gas prices — which are 30 to 40 percent lower than imported diesel — and the boom in domestic gas production prompted the company to invest more aggressively in the infrastructure necessary to make natural gas part of its US delivery network, UPS says. The company also says natural gas generates 25 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than diesel fuel.

UPS, which currently has 112 LNG 18-wheelers, will use new engines produced under a joint venture with Cummins and Westport Innovations, the New York Times reports. Cummins began shipping the engines last month.

A boom in natural gas shale drilling in the US has boosted supply and driven prices lower, prompting a producers to call for commercial and municipal transportation systems to switch from imported oil to domestically produced natural gas.

Other companies are accelerating their efforts to reduce emissions and save costs by switching trucks over to LNG and compressed natural gas.

For example, GE and Clean Energy Fuels announced a collaboration in November to expand LNG infrastructure to enable trucks to operate on the fuel across the US.

Clean Energy Fuels completed 70 LNG truck fueling stations in 2012, finishing the first stage of a network to support long-haul, heavy-duty trucks moving goods along major interstate corridors throughout the US. The company plans to build another 70 to 80 additional LNG fueling stations adjacent to long-haul trucking routes and around major warehouse distribution centers in the US.

Pressure from chains and name-brand manufacturers like Walmart and Nike to transport their goods by natural gas has encouraged companies, including UPS, FedEx and Ryder System to make the switch. It’s also prompted more companies to bring natural gas vehicles to market. Navistar and Volvo both have plans to offer long-haul natural gas vehicles, the New York Times reports.

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