Kenworth to produce liquefied natural gas vehicles

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Kenworth Truck Co. announced Jan. 24 that it will expand its presence in the growing market for environmentally friendly, liquefied natural gas vehicles by beginning production of Kenworth T800 LNG trucks at its manufacturing facility in Renton, Wash., in 2009. Under an exclusive agreement with Westport Innovations Inc. in Vancouver, B.C., Kenworth will use Westport’s LNG fuel system technology adapted for the Cummins ISX 15-liter engine.

“The Kenworth T800, equipped with a Cummins ISX and Westport’s HPDI fuel system, offers an industry-leading solution with world-class low emissions and greenhouse gases, while delivering outstanding horsepower, torque and efficiency comparable to a diesel engine,” says Bob Christensen, general manager of Kirkland, Wash.-based Kenworth and Paccar vice president. “Kenworth is recognized as a technology leader in the commercial vehicle market, and the exclusive ability to offer this technology reinforces Kenworth’s reputation as ‘The World’s Best.’ ”

The Kenworth LNG factory installation coincides with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announcement to approve a new $1.6 billion Clean Truck Superfund. The fund will assist replacing many of the 16,800 Class 8 trucks serving the ports with LNG-powered vehicles. The ports also have introduced a new progressive ban that will remove all pre-2007 trucks by 2012. Westport’s LNG fuel system is the only alternative fuel technology currently qualified for financial support under the ports’ Clean Truck program.

Kenworth and Westport Innovations previously have collaborated on an aftermarket basis to equip Kenworth T800s with LNG fuel systems; these trucks already are serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In addition, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in San Francisco recently became the first utility in the nation to operate Kenworth T800 LNG-powered trucks.

Westport will open a new LNG fuel system assembly center in British Columbia to support the Kenworth factory initiative and to rapidly increase production capacities of LNG fuel systems to meet growing market demand. The Westport assembly center will facilitate significant capability for fuel system assembly and engine conversions for delivery direct to the Kenworth plant.

“This agreement with Kenworth creates a dramatic increase in LNG truck delivery capacity and further strengthens Westport’s ability to efficiently meet the significant growth in market demand for environmentally clean LNG trucks from the ports and other fleet customers,” says Michael Gallagher, president and chief operating officer of Westport Innovations.

The Westport LNG system is available with 400 and 450 hp ratings and up to 1,750 lb-ft torque for heavy-duty port, freight and vocational applications. LNG fuel tanks can be configured to suit customer range requirements. The system comprises LNG fuel tanks, proprietary Westport fuel injectors, cryogenic fuel pumps and associated electronic components to facilitate robust performance and reliable operation.