UPS Clearing the Air with New LNG Tractors

Purchase Is Step Toward U.S. Energy Security

UPS (NYSE: UPS) today announced it has purchased another 48 heavy tractor trucks equipped to run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), bolstering its continuing effort to reduce the emissions of its truck fleet while taking a step toward energy security.

The vehicles, to be deployed this year in the western United States, will replace older generation diesel vehicles. These LNGs 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,” said Mike Britt, UPS’s 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.”

According to Britt, there are multiple technologies and alternative fuels being explored or deployed today to provide propulsion for small- and mid-sized trucks.  “But at the moment, LNG is the only suitable alternative to diesel for the really heavy, long-haul tractor trailers you see on the highway,” he added. “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.”

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.

UPS operates one of the largest private fleets of alternative fuel vehicles in its industry – 1,914 in total. Since 2000, UPS’s “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.

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 approximately 95 percent of the diesel fuel usage is replaced by energy generated from the natural gas. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 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,” added Britt. “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 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 dramatically expand the number of long-haul routes in the West on which they’re used.

“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,” said 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.”

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