Sales of heavy-duty natural gas trucks have jumped 18% this year over last, according to ACT Research's Alternative Fuels Quarterly, while the fueling infrastructure continues to contract.
While the overall number of trucks retailed is up, sales through the first eight months of the year have been mixed, if not volatile. June dropped 33% year-over-year, July surged 204% over last July and August climbed 20% versus a year ago, said Steve Tam, ACT Research vice president. The six major truck OEMs account for approximately 60% of the heavy-duty natural gas market.
“In the near term, June was relatively benign compared to May (-4%), while July spiked 82% month-over-month. Unable to maintain, volumes pulled back 33% from July to August. Combined, sales in the three-month period extended and increased the year-to-date gain, he added.
While measurably more trucks are hitting the highway, the number of stations available to fuel them is declining. According to Tam, there were 822 public compressed natural gas (CNG) stations open in the U.S. in mid-September 2022, the vast majority of which can accommodate a heavy-duty (HD) vehicle. The liquid NG (LNG) station count at the same period was 54, with all able to serve Class 8 vehicles.
"This translates to 15 fewer public CNG station and no change to the number of public LNG station since mid-June 2022," he added. “Given the existing station count’s downward trajectory, it isn’t a surprise that planned CNG stations are also contracting."
On a year-over-year basis, the number of planned private CNG stations was unchanged while planned public stations have declined more than 38%, Tam said. "It is worth noting that private U.S. stations also exist and are being planned. These currently include 4,572 existing stations and six planned sites, a decrease of 31 existing stations from last quarter, but we presume these are temporarily offline, rather than shuttered.”