Isuzu, Freightliner make CNG news at ACT Expo

Updated Jun 1, 2012

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America on Wednesday, May 16, announced a new process that will enable Isuzu dealers to convert or modify gasoline-powered NPR-HD (14,500-lb. GVWR) low-cab-forward trucks more quickly for their customers.

When placing orders for new trucks, Isuzu dealers can select a ship-thru option to indicate that they have arranged to have the trucks modified at one of two independent modification centers near the trucks’ assembly plant in Charlotte, Mich. Following the modification, the center will return the trucks to ICTA, which then will transport them to the dealers that ordered the units.

Making the announcement at the Alternative Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, Calif., ICTA said this new process will eliminate unnecessary dealer-incurred transportation expenses and shorten the amount of time necessary to obtain alternative fuel conversions and certain other types of other modifications.

Utilimaster offers compressed natural gas and liquefied propane gas alternative fuel conversions and other modifications for Isuzu trucks to dealers and customers at a modification facility located on the Spartan Motors campus in Charlotte. IMPCO Technologies offers CNG alternative fuel conversions at the IMPCO modification facility in Union City, Ind.

“This ship-thru option simplifies the movement of a completed truck from the Charlotte port to a near-plant modification center and finally back into the Isuzu logistics flow,” said Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America. “This can provide substantial cost savings for our dealers that require truck modifications not offered by Isuzu.”

Meanwhile, a Freightliner Cascadia tractor with a 30,000-pound trailer full of wastepaper is setting out from Long Beach bound for a recycling facility in Washington, D.C. The tractor in question is a CNG-powered Cascadia 113 with a Cummins ISX12G natural gas engine under the hood. The truck will run across the country, making stops at Freightliner dealerships en route to showcase the truck and give interested customers the chance to sit behind the wheel, go for a drive and see for themselves how viable a fuel CNG is for heavy-duty truck applications.

The tour is the brainchild of Gregory Treinen, product marketing manager for Freightliner, who says a major goal is to demonstrate just how far the CNG infrastructure has come in the United States over the past couple of years. “We’re making this trip using only public refueling facilities,” Treinen said. “There is a lot of talk out there today about how the LNG infrastructure is lagging as natural gas comes on line as a trucking fuel. And people tend to overlook the fact that the CNG infrastructure has already made great strides to the point that we can easily take this Cascadia coast-to-coast with no fear of being unable to find fueling options.”

A new Website, will allow people to track the drive in real time across the country and get updates and blog entries from the drivers, as well as a trip cost calculator, which will track the cost of the trip comparing CNG prices versus diesel prices, as well as a full listing of all dealership stops on the route.