UPS buys 48 more LNG tractors

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Updated Feb 23, 2011

UPS announced it has purchased another 48 heavy tractor trucks equipped to run on liquefied natural gas to bolster its continuing effort to reduce the emissions of its truck fleet. The vehicles, to be deployed this year in the western United States, will replace older-generation diesel vehicles and are expected to produce 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the older trucks and use 95 percent less diesel fuel than the vehicles they replace.

“This is an important step not only from an environmental standpoint but from the viewpoint of U.S. energy security,” says Mike Britt, UPS director of vehicle engineering. “Liquefied natural gas is a cheaper cleaner-burning fuel that is better for the environment and more sustainable than conventional diesel. And it’s also a fuel that’s in abundant supply inside the United States – it doesn’t have to be imported.”

Manufactured by Kenworth, the LNG tractors are powered by Westport HD Systems and initially will pull trailers on a transit lane linking Ontario, Calif., and Las Vegas, Nev., along with UPS’s 11 existing LNG tractors. UPS now has more than 1,100 natural gas-powered vehicles in service.

LNG technology uses natural gas as the main fuel with a small amount of diesel delivered at high pressure to the combustion chamber. Westport estimates about 95 percent of the diesel fuel usage is replaced by energy generated from the natural gas. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that this displacement will amount to about 1.25 million gallons of petroleum annually.

“The added advantage of LNG is it does not compromise the tractor’s abilities, fuel economy or drivability, and significantly reduces greenhouse gases,” Britt says. “These trucks have a solid 600-mile range and with reliable fueling infrastructure make an excellent alternative fuel system.”

UPS currently bases its 11 LNG tractors in Ontario, from which they can make the round trip to Las Vegas on one tank of fuel. UPS is working with DOE’s Clean Cities program to construct a LNG fueling station in Las Vegas. Once that facility is completed in 2011, UPS says it will base the 48 new tractors in Las Vegas and expand the number of long-haul routes in the West on which they’re used.

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“UPS has shown environmental leadership in expanding its natural gas fleet of delivery vehicles to a fleet of heavy-duty interstate trucks powered by Westport HD,” says Clark Quintin, president of Westport HD. “Connecting California’s existing LNG fuelling stations with developing ones in Utah will create valuable LNG capability on a busy goods movement corridor.”