Diesel engines dominated the North American heavy duty vehicle market in 2015 but natural gas technology is starting to chip away on their market share as new environmental regulations take hold.
Diesel engines accounted for 98.5 percent—nearly all of the motors—in Class 8 trucks last year, according to a report from ACT Research.
“Our forecast assumes that there will be some incremental share shift to alternative fuels, in particular, natural gas,” Steve Tam, vice president of commercial vehicle sector for ACT Research, told Trucks.com.
The natural gas share of the market is projected to rise to just above 3 percent of the industry by 2021, he said.
The adoption of natural gas by the heavy duty truck market is governed by the payback period—the amount of time it takes to recover the higher cost of a natural gas-powered truck over a diesel truck.
“At present, the relatively low cost of oil and the relatively high price of a comparably spec’d truck with natural gas power make the natural gas adoption math difficult for the vast majority of the industry,” Tam said.