September 8, 2010

Have your clean truck and power it too!

Proven Performance in Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Trucks

LNG trucks equipped with early-generation Westport HD Systems have been in service in North American fleets since 2000. Extensive in-service experience allowed Westport to bring advanced systems to the commercial market with confidence, and today there are fleets operating LNG trucks powered by Westport HD in Canada, the United States, and Australia.

We caught up with a few people on the ground driving, purchasing, or selling heavy-duty trucks, and we spoke to them about their experiences with LNG trucks.

With over 32 years in the transportation industry, Vic LaRosa knows trucks. Vic is President of California’s Total Transportation Systems Inc. (TTSI). He also knows the impact the trucking industry has made on the environment. When Vic saw an opportunity to add trucks to his fleet that run on cheaper, cleaner burning, domestically available natural gas, without compromising performance or fuel economy, he seized it with the Westport HD GX engine and LNG fuel system.

“We pretty much determined that the future was going to really dictate a major movement to alternative fuels,” says Vic. “The only thing being developed in the marketplace at the time that was truly alternative and would get the job done was LNG.”

“There was a tremendous fear about natural gas. It was an unknown. There were a lot of people that were not too confident [in] natural gas. In the last year, a lot of that angst has disappeared. The drivers are really starting to embrace it. They’re finding that the technology does work.”

On the driving experience, Vic finds the trucks capable and adaptable: “We haul anything from… 25-30 thousand pound loads all the way to maximum loads of 44-45 thousand pounds, which would be scrap-metal. The driving experience has been very, very good. It’s a quiet ride; it’s a comfortable ride; it gets the job done in terms of horsepower. We’re very pleased with the results.”

Listen to Vic explain why he chose LNG trucks powered by Westport HD.

“I was opposed to it at first. I’m an old-school trucker. I thought I was going to lose a lot of power, but the power is pretty much the same. Now I’m a big believer. I like it a lot. No smell. No fumes. It’s the perfect truck.”
— Allen Williams Jr., Independent Contractor, TTSI

“The difference between an LNG truck and a regular diesel tractor is really none. It has the same amount of horsepower, it pulls the same commodities, the same weight; we’re able to travel the same distance on a full tank of fuel. It just provide(s) a cleaner environment.”
— Fernando Bogarin, General Manager, TTSI

“Since LNG is pretty new out there I wasn’t too sure how it was going to be. One day in here changed my mind. One day is all it took, because I was just impressed with it. It’s a lot cheaper to run LNG compared to your diesel, so it’s going to save people money. It’s just as simple as fuelling up a diesel truck; it’s really quick. You don’t have to worry about over filling it and getting diesel all over you. It’s a lot cleaner in that sense. It’s great, it really is.
— Lee Leasure, Driver, Trimac Transportation

Sit in the cab with Lee while he speaks about his LNG truck experience.

Truck sales involve knowing the application and duty cycle your customer expects to run and what will work for them. Bob Fry, General Manager and Inland Kenworth in California says, “I have guys running these every day that feel they have a better operation than diesel. Some of these trucks in the Port may only be driving 50 miles a day, but they’re pulling tremendous weight: over 100,000 lbs. Some guys will run as many as 500 miles a day. So they’re doing both kinds of operations.”

In North America, the Westport HD GX engine and LNG fuel system is based on the Cummins ISX platform and is currently available in truck models from Kenworth and Peterbilt. The GX engine and LNG fuel system is also offered by Kenworth Australia.

Westport HD has development programs in place with Weichai in China—through joint venture Weichai Westport Inc.—and with Volvo Powertrain of Sweden. Each program will engineer the Westport HD technology to the respective engine brand for future product commercialization.

For more testimonial videos, visit Westport's YouTube channel.

Westport HD is the business unit of Westport Innovations Inc. that targets the heavy-duty vehicle market.

August 5, 2010

Westport Enters Light-Duty Automotive Market—an interview with Ian Scott, President, Juniper Engines Inc.

by Heather Merry

On July 2, Westport Innovations announced it has acquired Italian company OMVL SpA, the other parent company of its joint venture Juniper Engines Inc. Westport has purchased 100% of the interest in OMVL and as a result, Juniper is now wholly owned by Westport.

Fuel for Thought spoke to Ian Scott, President of Juniper Engines, who will now run the combined companies, to get his take on the acquisition and the future for the new Juniper.

Fuel for Thought:
Ian, this is a great step for Juniper and injects an immediate revenue stream into Juniper (and therefore Westport). What is the significance of the acquisition?

Ian Scott:
Thank you. The purchase includes OMVL’s 51% equity in the Juniper joint venture and therefore Westport now owns 100% of both Juniper and OMVL. Going forward OMVL will be operated within Juniper, and this deal represents a large step for Juniper towards leadership in the light-duty alternative fuel engine market. OMVL is the third largest global compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) automotive fuel system and component supplier. So, Juniper will integrate a global business that includes products and technologies, assembly operations and facilities, and most importantly people, who will allow our combined company to become a leading player in our space.

FFT: Why acquire OMVL?

IS: The acquisition provides immediate access to the automotive market, new revenues for Juniper and Westport, and integration of the fuel system supply for Juniper’s industrial products. The story began in October 2007, when Westport and OMVL formed the Juniper joint venture. Both companies have worked together effectively since inception, and we largely view this acquisition as strengthening our existing partnership. OMVL brings proven spark-ignited multipoint injection fuel systems (the same systems Juniper uses on our forklift product), high volume manufacturing excellence, and strong engineering capabilities. In 2009, OMVL sold more than 300,000 LPG and CNG units, including complete fuel system kits or individual components such as reducers, for revenue of €19 million (US$23.4M). Juniper products will provide our parent company Westport with a strong balance to the differentiated Westport HD and Cummins Westport(CWI) product line-up.

FFT: What will Westport pay for the acquisition?

IS: Westport acquired OMVL for approximately US$23 million in total—about the same as OMVL’s 2009 revenues.

FFT: So Juniper is now in the light-duty automotive (passenger car) market?

IS: Yes, based on existing OMVL relationships.

FFT: What is OMVL’s current business exactly?

IS: OMVL designs, manufactures, and markets complete fuelling systems for new OEM light-duty vehicles and for the aftermarket conversion of engines from gasoline (petrol) to CNG and LPG. They are a leading supplier of alternative fuel kits and components in global markets including Europe, China, and Australia. They also have strong OEM partnerships in place including PSA Peugeot-Citroen (France) and Magna Gaz (Russia).

FFT: So, what’s the business strategy for Juniper?

IS: Juniper is the Westport business unit addressing the light-duty market. Our goal has been clear from the outset; to generate sustainable profits by becoming the OEM partner of choice for alternative fuel light-duty engine solutions. Juniper is emulating the Westport HD and CWI models by achieving success through superior products and customer support, in a focussed segment of the market; in this case light-duty. Juniper’s strategy was to enter and aggressively grow in the mobile industrial segment, migrate that experience to stationary industrial, and finally, to enter into and grow automotive. The acquisition is the culmination of that strategy.

FFT: What’s the current status of the Juniper mobile industrial product?

IS: We’re currently shipping Juniper LPG engines to our lead forklift customer, Clark Materials Handling. The engines are contract assembled in Busan, South Korea, integrating OMVL’s fuel system on the Hyundai 2.4L base engine. They are then shipped to Clark’s Korean manufacturing centre—within an hour by road from our assembly centre—and assembled into Clark forklifts and shipped globally. The first U.S.-bound forklifts have now landed on North American soil. The Juniper team is fully supporting Clark during the initial production ramp, and we look to further expand our customer base in the forklift and construction applications in the near future.

FFT: You mentioned a non-mobile industrial segment? What is happening there?

IS: We have begun field tests in oilfield applications with five engines in service that are pumping oil 24/7. Those engines operate on the wellhead natural gas that is produced from the well with the oil. The wellhead natural gas runs our engine, which in turn drivers a hydraulic unit that pumps the heavy oil out of the ground; it’s essentially a closed-loop system. When the trials are complete, we will be looking to also formalize customer relationships in other stationary applications such as power generation and agriculture.

FFT: OMVL is based in Italy. Will that change, due to the acquisition?

IS: No. OMVL is based in Pernumia, Italy, and is strong in Europe and sells products globally with the exception of North America. As we know, Westport’s main market is North America with additional global sales that are largely outside of Europe. Juniper and Westport facilities are largely concentrated in North America and Asia, whereas OMVL facilities provide a strong footprint in Europe and Latin America. The pieces fit together nicely.

FFT: So what now, Ian?

IS: We will use the current Juniper industrial and OMVL businesses as a foundation from which to grow by leveraging the strengths of both companies and evaluating strategic investments. On the industrial side, we expand with new markets, partners and products. In automotive, Juniper will grow the business through new OEM relationships and continued strong aftermarket sales. Strategic investments in new areas such as North American automotive, OEM class products and system installation capabilities, will allow us to compete for market leadership.

Read the press release on the acquisition or for more information visit

July 29, 2010

Westport's Sustainability Report Available Online

by Karen Hamberg

Every business intersects with complex global problems and urgent sustainability challenges such as climate change, energy security, the availability of clean water, the loss of biodiversity, poverty, social justice and environmental health. It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of these issues and wonder what, if anything, a small company on the west coast of Canada can do to mobilize and drive global change.

We believe that business success is no longer solely measured “company to customer” but via its relationships with a range of stakeholders. As a clean technology leader, we recognize the responsibility we have to our employees, customers, partners, shareholders, suppliers, governments, the natural environment, academic institutions, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the neighbourhoods in which we live and work.

The decarbonisation of the transport sector requires vision, leadership and boldness. Our employees are the best source of ideas for minimizing the environmental impact of our operations and developing more innovative ways of working together. Our customers have shown environmental leadership by purchasing natural gas vehicles and are now able to earn emission credits via the Westport Carbon Project. Governments around the world are recognizing the economic, energy security, environmental and job creation benefits of natural gas vehicles. Environmental NGOs want to learn more about how reducing the carbon intensity of fuels has the potential to meaningfully reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. Our partners see a tremendous opportunity to revolutionize how we move freight and people.

But of course, our role in the above-mentioned efforts is meaningless if our own house is not in order. To that end, we are pleased to share our progress in our third sustainability report providing information on our social and environmental impacts. Data from four fiscal years have been included to reflect trends, achievements and challenges. Our approach to sustainability has been driven by data and quantifiable measures but the story behind the numbers is even more compelling. More comprehensive discussion will occur on our website, and in future annual reports.

View the Westport Innovations Inc. 2010 Sustainability Report.

July 8, 2010

Get Cash Back for Buying a Low-Carbon Natural Gas Engine—Every Year!

by Karen Hamberg

Back in March, Westport announced the first global carbon finance program for transportation registered to the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). The VCS was established to provide a rigourous, trustworthy, and innovative global standard and validation and verification program for voluntary greenhouse gas offsets. All voluntary carbon units are real, measurable, permanent, additional, conservative, independently verified, unique and transparent. By working with Grütter Consulting—the world’s leading firm linking carbon finance with clean transportation projects—the Westport Carbon Project (WCP) monetizes the emission reductions associated with Westport HD and Cummins Westport natural gas engines.
“Westport strives to offer heavy-duty vehicle engines with leading environmental performance. The WCP validates the emissions reduction benefits of natural gas engines and further supports the economic and environmental value proposition we offer to customers.” (Karen Hamberg – Director, Sustainability and Environmental Performance Westport Innovations)
Globally, the transport sector is the fastest growing emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Carbon finance is the mechanism by which (CO2) reductions can be sold on the carbon markets to partially finance the measures taken to reduce these emissions. The most notable or well-recognized transportation project is the Bus Rapid Transit TransMilenio in Bogota, Colombia. The TransMilenio was the first project registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol and transports more than 1.8 million passengers daily through 130 kilometres of exclusive bus lanes in 1,200 articulated buses and 500 large feeder buses. The project annually reduces (CO2) emissions by 250,000 tonnes and has received more than US$100 million in carbon finance over the entire crediting period.

The two very different examples of TransMilenio (regulated under the CDM of the Kyoto Protocol) and the Westport Carbon Project (registered to the VCS for voluntary offset projects) highlight some of the challenges and opportunities associated with quantifying, validating and verifying emission reductions from mobile transport sources.

Let me speak to the Westport Carbon Project in greater detail:

The Challenge of Scale
  • The cost of establishing a carbon finance project would be prohibitive for all but the largest fleets. The structure of the WCP allows Westport HD and Cummins Westport powered vehicles sold since January 1st, 2009 to be aggregated into a larger project. Vehicles sold to fleet owners worldwide including the United States, Australia, Canada and China will be included in the WCP.
The Rigour of Validation
  • Emission reduction calculations are based on a United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) approved methodology—in our case, AMS III.C “Emission Reductions by Low Greenhouse Gas Emitting Vehicles”. The project documentation has been validated by SQS, a Swiss entity certified by UNFCCC for the validation of climate change projects in the transport field.
  • The annual verification process will provide our customers with a third-party certified account of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions associated with their fleet operations.
Carbon Pricing in the Voluntary Market
  • The voluntary carbon market has historically offered lower prices per tonne than the regulated or compliance markets. The carbon rebate cheques sent to customers as part of the WCP may be variable year to year depending on fleet data such as mileage and fuel consumption and the carbon price per tonne on the voluntary market.
  • It is estimated that GHG reductions for a natural gas bus are about 20 tonnes per year, whereas a heavy-duty natural gas truck are about 40 tonnes per year as compared to an equivalent diesel engine.
Please contact Westport's Director of Sustainability and Environmental Performance with any questions regarding the Westport Carbon Project and watch this space and Westport's website for further updates.

June 10, 2010

Westport Among the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada

by Karen Hamberg

Westport Innovations has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada in an annual report by Jantzi-Sustainalytics in partnership with Maclean’s magazine.  We are pleased to be in such good company with other leading organizations selected on the basis of their performance across a broad range of environmental, social, and governance indicators tracked by Jantzi Research.

Westport is being recognized as a result of its natural gas engine technology for heavy-duty vehicles that reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while preserving the power, torque, and fuel efficiency of diesel engines.

In addition, the launch of the Westport Carbon Project (WCP) in March to monetize the emission reductions associated with its Cummins Westport and Westport HD natural gas engines is the first transportation project registered to the Voluntary Carbon Standard.   Through this initiative, Westport and Cummins Westport natural gas-powered vehicles sold since January 2009 are eligible for carbon credits further supplementing the economic and environmental value proposition we offer to customers.

For more information on Westport’s sustainability initiatives please visit to

The Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations issue of Maclean’s hits the newsstands today.

May 27, 2010

Heavy-duty truck emissions regulation is driving north to Canada—really?

by Heather Merry

Hope is here for North America-wide regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for heavy-duty trucking with a U.S. announcement Friday and a Canadian announcement the same day to mirror it.

On May 21, with major truck association and manufacturer leaders by his side, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke about that day’s Presidential Memorandum, addressing “a transformation of our Nation’s fleet of cars and trucks” that the industry of alternative fuel and transportation technologies has been waiting to hear for a while. We couldn’t agree more. As Obama’s memorandum itself states, “medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses continue to be a major source of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas pollution.”

The whole announcement is full of promise that industry and environmental groups alike hope will bring real improvements to the transportation pollution problem in North America through regulation. After citing the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama states, “even as we pursue domestic production to reduce our reliance on imported oil, our long-term security depends on the development of alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies.”

And after Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice made an announcement the same day that Canada will look to harmonize heavy-duty truck emissions regulations with the U.S., greatly assisting manufacturers and fleets operating in both jurisdictions, we have cause for cheer. Cheer, at least, that governments are addressing emissions from the heavy-duty sector and its current ugly 23% of North America’s GHG emissions from transportation. And according to the Conference Board of Canada, virtually all of the increase in GHG emissions from transportation has come from freight transport due mainly to corporations integrating their North American operations in the last two and a half decades and therefore using more large trucks carrying more freight over longer distances.

While it seems I cannot quote Obama enough today thanks to these nuggets of promise above, I question the severity of the regulations to come. Will they really dictate low GHG emissions standards bringing major reductions, or are the Globe and Mail and others’ predictions of aerodynamic hood clips and fancy tires correct? I can applaud the use of aerodynamics to improve GHG emissions where they are not already in use (which, incidentally, they should be), but is this baby step, the ONLY step our two advanced nations are going to take? I hope not. To make a difference, the regulation must effect a change to lower-carbon fuels, not just vehicle/fuel efficiency. A combination of incumbent fuel technologies and alternative lower-carbon fuel solutions can achieve the fastest carbon (GHG) reduction at the lowest cost using available technology.

I’m hopeful that both the U.S. and Canadian governments will make sizeable changes to emissions standards, but will await their actions before commenting. Details of the standards that will be imposed are not yet available, and I concede that mandating better vehicle or fuel efficiency is at least a start if we are to reduce GHG emissions by 17% by 2020 as both countries are targeting. Let’s just hope they are more aggressive and present truly lower GHG emissions standards, achievable now by switching to natural gas technologies already powering trucks in the market today such as Westport HD and Cummins Westport engines.

And Westport is looking forward, as surely all auto and truck manufacturers are, to a harmonized system of emissions regulations not only throughout the U.S., but across the northern border to Canada too. Operators need support and incentive to move on this, and having one standard to adhere to makes it that much easier.

Yes, hope is indeed here, but I guess we must wait until the fall, and then next year for the real numbers to gauge the environmental progress these two nations are actually going to make with this.

May 7, 2010

Biomethane: A Green, Renewable Fuel for Heavy-Duty Vehicles

by Karen Hamberg

Transport accounts for nearly one-quarter of global energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions. To achieve the necessary deep cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, transport must play a significant role. Current best-available and emerging vehicle technologies have the potential to deliver substantial reductions in CO2 emissions but they need to be introduced rapidly, at a rate and on a scale that is unprecedented in the last 40 years of the transport evolution.[1]  The transition to low-carbon alternatives will not be straightforward or unchallenged.[2]

The reduction of GHG emissions from the transport sector will require: i) alternative fuels that enable vehicles to emit less CO2 per unit of energy used through the use of less carbon-intensive energy sources, ii) efficiency improvements from new technologies and operational improvements for truck transport management that reduce the energy use of vehicles and, iii) modal shifts in urban short-distance travel and long-distance travel.[3]

Biomethane or renewable natural gas has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon intensity of transportation and generate a range of economic, environmental and energy security benefits. In comparison to other low-carbon forms of transportation such as electric vehicles or hybrids, biomethane is suitable for heavy-duty transport applications using the Cummins Westport ISL G or Westport GX engines and delivers greater lifecycle GHG emission reduction than other biofuels. 

Biomethane can be produced from a variety of biomass and biogas sources including landfill gas, waste water treatment plants and other municipal, agricultural and forestry waste streams. Biogas is produced by the anaerobic digestion of biomass using purpose-built anaerobic digesters or via the process of thermal gasification. Biogas contains approximately 15–45% carbon dioxide (CO2), 50–80% methane (CH4) and impurities. It must be purified to pipeline quality standards; a minimum of 96% of methane before it can be used as a direct substitute for natural gas in natural gas fuelled vehicles.

Economics play a key role in what transport technologies and fuels are adopted and how biomass is used. Numerous studies have shown that biomethane costs compare favourably to diesel but the recent drop and stagnation in natural gas prices has changed the competitive landscape. Anaerobic digesters, biogas upgrading facilities and liquefaction are capital intensive processes and many biomethane business cases have been negatively impacted by inexpensive natural gas. With the discovery of natural gas shale plays and new horizontal drilling and fracturing technologies, North America has an abundant, long-term supply of affordable natural gas.

However, a new economic model is emerging where natural gas suppliers and utilities are looking to increase demand via new markets and add renewable content. Transportation provides an opportunity to increase demand and biomethane allows utilities to add renewable content, making natural gas an even greener energy source. This model is similar to electrical utilities adding alternative or renewable energy to the grid or fuel providers offering biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel blends. A recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report notes that 25% of global agricultural and forestry residues could produce enough biomethane to meet 14.9% of current transportation fuel demand.[4]

There are currently strong incentives for the increased use of renewable fuels in the transport sector worldwide. Some first-generation ethanol and biodiesel production routes have limitations with regard to resource efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gases.[5]  A transition is needed to much more sustainable feedstocks and approaches to biofuels production to ensure there is no competition with food/feed supplies and poor performance in terms of GHG cost-per-tonne or land-use efficiency.[6]  Biomethane is a renewable energy source and presents an opportunity to turn abundant, marginal and zero-value waste products into useful fuel.

The transport sector is almost fully dependent on petroleum-derived fuels and finding alternatives remains a challenge. Deploying next generation technologies at the scale required will take time once they become commercially available.[7]  Biomethane holds an advantage over liquid biofuels as the refining and distribution processes are established, the fuelling infrastructure is expanding and natural gas fuelled vehicles are currently available from more than 50 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).  Compared to the majority of liquid biofuels in use today, biomethane often has a far better performance with regard to both land-use efficiency and life-cycle emissions thereby positioning biomethane as a strong candidate for becoming one of the most sustainable vehicle fuels in the near future.[8]

  1. International Energy Agency (2009) “Transport, Energy and CO2: Moving Towards Sustainability” IEA/OECD, 2009
  2. Sperling, Daniel and James S. Cannon eds. (2009) “Reducing Climate Impacts in the Transportation Sector” Springer Science and Business Media 2009 pp.7
  3. International Energy Agency (2009) “Transport, Energy and CO2: Moving Towards Sustainability” IEA/OECD, 2009
  4. IEA (2010) “Sustainable Production of Second Generation Biofuels”. Available at
  5. Borjesson, Pal and B. Mattiasson (2007) “Biogas as a Resource Efficient Vehicle Fuel”. Lund University, 2007. Available at
  6. International Energy Agency (2009) “Transport, Energy and CO2: Moving Towards Sustainability” IEA/OECD, 2009
  7. World Resources Institute (2008) “Plants at the Pump: Reviewing Biofuels’ Impacts and Policy Recommendations”. Available at
  8. Borjesson, Pal and B. Mattiasson (2007) “Biogas as a Resource Efficient Vehicle Fuel”. Lund University, 2007. Available at

April 21, 2010

Driving the Clean Transportation Economy: Dispatches from GLOBE 2010

GLOBE 2010 featured a Westport-sponsored panel "Driving the Clean Transportation Economy: Natural Gas at the Intersection of Emissions, Economics and Energy" with executive representatives from EnCana, Terasen and Groupe Robert. Panel chairman, Westport CEO David Demers, highlighted the economic, environmental and political forces impacting the global shift to natural gas as a vehicle fuel before turning the discussion over to the industry experts.

Westport LNG Engineering Truck at Globe 2010
Eric Marsh, Executive Vice President Natural Gas Economy at EnCana described the importance of natural gas to the Canadian and US economies. North American consumption amounts to 25 trillion cubic feet (TCF) or 7% of Canadian GDP and 3% of US GDP. Recently, the prices of natural gas and oil have been decoupled and while the prices are still determined by relative supply, it is expected that future natural gas costs will not increase as rapidly as oil. We are also seeing a technological renaissance due to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques that have unlocked vast quantities of low-cost shale gas. EnCana sees a bright future for natural gas as a transport fuel and is switching its own fleet vehicles to natural gas.

Randy Jespersen, CEO of Terasen, spoke from the perspective of the natural gas distributor and drew on his 30 years of industry experience. Jespersen believes that we need to think of natural gas as a foundation fuel, not a bridge fuel, as we have greater than a one hundred year supply in North America. The Honda Civic GX running on natural gas is the cleanest vehicle in the world, cleaner than hybrids and providing 30-50% fuel cost savings relative to conventional vehicles.

According to Jespersen, the real opportunity lies in switching heavy-duty trucks to natural gas. The incremental cost of switching from diesel to natural gas can be paid back in as little as two years pending the price of natural gas and less in US if favourable legislation, such as the Nat Gas Act, is passed. Alliances such as the Terasen-Westport-IMW Compressor consortium have been advocating the economic, environmental and operational benefits of natural gas vehicles and fuelling infrastructure in British Columbia.

But what about a fleet operator? Claude Robert, President and CEO of Groupe Robert Inc., operates one of the largest fleets in Canada with more than 2,700 employees and 4,000 pieces of equipment. Robert says that over the last 60 years, the efficiency of trucking has increased dramatically going from 1.5 miles per gallon to 7 or 8 miles per gallon. Improved aerodynamics, advanced engine technologies, special tires and driver training initiatives have combined to improve fuel consumption. What we need now however is a new fuel that can deliver even greater emission reductions and environmental benefits. Government leadership is needed to support the construction of fuelling infrastructure and to develop measures that incentivize the adoption and deployment of natural gas vehicles.

Robert noted that Westport’s technology is unique in that it offers leading vehicle performance and emissions reductions. Because of the lead time associated with converting an entire fleet to natural gas and building the required fuelling infrastructure, the time to act is now.