Total natural gas vehicle sales in US down 6.5% in 2014 due to 34% drop in light-duty sales; medium- and heavy-duty up
In 2014, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty natural gas vehicle (NGV) production/sales in the US totaled just over 18,000 vehicles, down 6.5% from 2013, according to NGVAmerica’s 2014 NGV Production/Sales Report. The report is based on the organization’s annual survey of OEMs and approved aftermarket suppliers.
The heavy-duty market segment grew at a healthy pace, up 30% over 2013. The medium-duty market segment also grew steadily, up 24% over 2013. The light-duty segment fell 34% from 2013, mostly related to a drop in orders from the gas and oil exploration and production (E&P) sector.
|Source: NGVAmerica. Click to enlarge.|
The report shows overall sales for the year fell slightly as a result of the drop in the price of oil that occurred in the second half of the year and the impact this had largely on sales of light-duty NGVs to oil and gas exploration companies.
While 2014 saw some utility orders, many utilities had “loaded up” on NGV orders in 2012 and 2013; thus, the orders from this segment were down compared to the previous two years. The municipal segment did not decline as much as other segments. This is likely due to municipalities committing to purchases based on sustainability goals rather than pure economics, the report suggests.
While AT&T and several other large commercial accounts took delivery of NGVs in 2014, they achieved their target deployment goals earlier in the year. Miscellaneous small orders from small commercial accounts were not finalized as gasoline prices fell, further contributing to the decline in commercial segment orders.
The report predicts that as the price of oil rebounds, NGVs’ economic value proposition will improve further, and when combined with the other advantages of natural gas—stable fuel prices, reliable technology and reduced emissions—sales growth will once again accelerate.
In contrast, significant growth occurred in both the medium- and heavy-duty market segments as a result of the still favorable economics these higher-fuel use applications generate.
The medium-duty market increase was due to a mix of shuttles, utility cab-chassis orders, and several good size commercial box truck cab-over-engine (COE) orders. This market is poised for continued growth as more platforms become available and as incremental price premiums drop, strengthening the overall economic value proposition, the report suggested.
The heavy-duty segment benefitted from market drivers in three distinct areas: continued growth in refuse truck sales and strong transit bus orders; the first full-year availability of a new engine platform (Cummins Westport ISX-12G 11.9L); and continued growth in dual-fuel systems.
Refuse truck sales captured more than 50% of the market. Natural gas transit bus orders were especially strong in 2014, as many existing agencies began replacing original natural gas units purchased in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Several new agencies also began transitioning to natural gas.
The report projects continued growth in the heavy-duty sector this year with similar sales gains in the (CWI) ISL-G 8.9L engine in refuse and transit applications, and a more robust sales performance of the ISX-12G engine in trucking and other heavy-duty applications.
However, sales growth in both the heavy- and medium-duty sectors will continue to be tempered by and dependent upon the price of oil and the demand for diesel fuel.
The report forecasts continued lower performance in the light-duty sector because of the relatively low price of oil, resulting in high storage supplies and low gasoline prices, and the high fuel economy and relatively low fuel use in most light-duty applications.