Diesel to Remain the Leading Fuel for Trucking

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Diesel fuel will remain the primary fuel the trucking industry uses for decades to come, according to a two-year study on the future of alternative fuels conducted by the National Petroleum Council. The U.S. Secretary of Energy requested the study, which looked at a range of alternative-fuel options alongside traditional diesel and gasoline.

The Department of Energy estimates that heavy-duty trucks, defined as on-road vehicles in Class 3 through 8, consume over 20 percent of the fuel used in transportation in the United States, and the study said that diesel will remain a leading fuel.

"Diesel in all the scenarios we ran remains the dominant fuel for heavy-duty trucking. There is no place where we see diesel shares moving below the 50 percent share even in the very long term in 2020 and 2035," said Bill Taylor who was one of the 300 leading academics, engineering experts and executives in the vehicle and fuel industry who worked on the study. Taylor made his comments while presenting the study at The NATSO Show in Savannah, Ga.

While diesel will remain strong, Taylor expects to see the use of natural gas continue to increase, and its market share in heavy-duty trucking may approach 50 percent by 2050 if the price differential between diesel and natural gas persists over time.

Even still, a transition to natural gas will be well into the future. "If everyone started buying natural gas trucks tomorrow, it would still be a long time before a lot of them were on the road because trucks last for a long time and there are a lot of older trucks on the road," Taylor said.

 

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Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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