UPS has purchased another 48 heavy tractor trucks equipped to run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). 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 is the only private delivery company using this technology in its fleet and now has more than 1,100 natural gas-powered vehicles in service.
The vehicles, to be deployed this year, will replace older generation diesel vehicles. These LNGs are expected to produce 25% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the older trucks and use 95% less diesel fuel than the vehicles they replace.
The Westport HD System consists of the GX 15-liter engine (based on the Cummins ISX diesel engine with cooled exhaust gas recirculation), proprietary Westport fuel injectors, LNG fuel tanks with integrated cryogenic fuel pumps, and associated electronic components to facilitate robust performance and reliable operation. The Westport HD GX engine is certified and compliant to 2010 US Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board emission standards in North America. The Westport technology uses natural gas as the main fuel with a small amount of diesel delivered at high pressure to the combustion chamber. The trucks have a 600-mile (966 km) range.
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 closely with the DOE’s Clean Cities program to construct a LNG fueling station in Las Vegas. Once that facility is completed in 2011, UPS 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.
UPS has contracted with Clean Energy Fuels Corp. to fuel the new fleet of 48 LNG trucks at the new Las Vegas station. The agreement has a seven-year initial term with three one-year renewal options. Clean Energy will design, build, own and operate the station.
According to Mike Britt, UPS’ director of vehicle engineering, there are multiple technologies and alternative fuels being explored or deployed today to provide propulsion for small- and mid-sized trucks. However, he notes that “at the moment, LNG is the only suitable alternative to diesel for the really heavy, long-haul tractor trailers you see on the highway. As a fuel, LNG is very dense, providing a large amount of energy for the amount of space it occupies. This makes LNG an excellent potential fuel for large trucks that need to travel a long distance before refueling.”
UPS operates one of the largest private fleets of alternative fuel vehicles in its industry: 1,914 in total. Since 2000, UPS’ “green fleet” has traveled more than 185 million miles. Besides LNG, UPS has deployed Compressed Natural Gas, propane, electric and hybrid electric vehicles in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.