Gathering in Williamsburg, Va., Managers from over 50 companies in the U.S., Canada and South America were on hand for the 2010 Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference. The theme for the 57th annual EUFMC was “A Sustainable Pathway to Your Fleet’s Future,” a topic addressed by several fleet managers and supplier representatives.
One of those was Dave Bryant, manager of vocational sales at Daimler Trucks North America, who came to discuss the OEM’s natural gas powered vehicle offerings. DTNA, he noted, has put more than 2,000 natural gas units into service in a range of applications, including utility, municipal, construction, beverage, pick-up and delivery, regional haul and drayage fleets, among others.
Built on the Freightliner M2 112 platform, the factory-installed natural gas solution features the Cummins Westport ISL G 8 engine. The five models offered in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) versions include 250, 260, 280, 300 and 320 HP options with peak torque from 660 to 1,000 ft./lb. at 1,300 RPM.
Bryant pointed out several benefits of natural gas engines during his EUFMC presentation. “Those include lower operating costs than diesel,” he stated. “With the same rated speed as an ISL diesel, the ISL G provides 30% more torque at idle, 5% better fuel economy, and it is quieter. In fact, 10 natural gas powered trucks idling together are quieter than one diesel engine. Overall, payback analysis comparing CNG to diesel shows a return on the natural gas engine investment in just 1.2 years based on current fuel prices and 50,000 annual miles of service.”
Other advantages of 2010 ISL G natural gas engines, Bryant noted, include a maintenance-free three-way catalyst and no need for additional emissions control devices, Diesel Particulate Filter regeneration or ash cleaning.
For its M2 natural gas models, Freightliner offers factory-installed CNG tanks in 60 and 75 diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) configurations. Factory-installed LNG options include 119- and 147-gallon tanks, which equate to 65 and 86 DGE, respectively.
All Freightliner natural gas vehicles include a standard methane detection system. The system encompasses sensors mounted in the cab, engine compartment and outside the cab near the fuel tank to provide visual and audible warnings of fuel leaks. Freightliner and Cummins Westport also provide on-site fleet customer training upon request, as well as engine and fuel system maintenance and troubleshooting services.
Another Freightliner offering that Bryant detailed to the conference attendees is designed to enhance performance in natural gas powered vehicles, including providing improved startability at launch and full power shifts. Allison Optimized, he said, is an approach to configuring a vehicle’s driveline to deliver optimal performance for CNG and LNG vehicles used in specific vocational markets. Components of the system include Shift Energy Management (SEM), Load Based Shift Schedule (LBSS), Recommended Shift Schedules, Auto Neutral on Park Brake Apply and Prognostics capabilities.
“When you look at fuel choices, natural gas is a great choice to meet short-haul and vocational needs,” Bryant said. “It is less expensive than diesel fuel, and NG-powered engines have a lower cost of operation than their diesel counterparts. Switching to natural gas may also come with tax benefits, potentially saving fleets even more money.”
Editor’s Notes: The 2011 EUFMC will be held June 19-22 at the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center in Williamsburg, Va. (www.eufmc.com)