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Overdrive Staff | September 01, 2011

The webinar was produced by Overdrive and Truckers News magazines and sponsored by Freightliner Trucks. A recording of it can be downloaded free under “Archives” at TruckerWebinars.com.

Sign-on bonuses will continue to re-emerge, Klemp says. He also forecast increased use of productivity pay programs.

Klemp says that a second-quarter survey of 350 carriers shows these indications:

• Quality of available driver candidates is “marginal at best.”

• Driver demand and supply is out of balance, so wages should increase.

• Factors such as the underground economy, part-time jobs and regulatory hurdles such as Compliance Safety Accountability and potential hours of service changes are reducing the pool of qualified drivers.

— Max Kvidera



Natural gas trucks catching on

Natural gas is slowly making inroads in trucking, executives reported Aug. 11 at a green trucking event presented by Kenworth.

Carriers are stepping up purchases of natural gas-powered trucks such as this Kenworth T800 running on liquid natural gas.

Carriers are making NG-powered truck purchases and more liquid natural gas and compressed natural gas fueling stations are being opened.

Fleets such as Heckmann and Ryder each have ordered 200 LNG-powered trucks, and C.R. England will take a small, unspecified number of Kenworth trucks to haul syrup for Coca-Cola, said Andy Douglas, Kenworth national sales manager for specialty markets.

Helping drive the interest in NG is the price of diesel and growing availability of NG fueling locations. NG costs about half diesel’s current price on an equivalent diesel basis and is projected to stay at that price for the foreseeable future, Douglas said. NG also releases about 25 percent fewer emissions when burned. Its attractiveness is enhanced because it can be used with existing diesel engine technology with a few modifications.

Interest in NG trucks is increasing despite a 30 percent to 40 percent higher cost. Most of the additional cost comes from more expensive fuel tanks that in the case of LNG are a tank within a tank to cool the gas, plus an auxiliary tank for diesel that ignites first before igniting the LNG in the engine.

Most of the existing NG fueling stations are in California, where ports and utilities have led the way in adopting NG technology.

Despite the enthusiasm about increasing orders for NG-fueled trucks, only about 23,000 vehicles, primarily utility and refuse companies, operate in the United States, Douglas said.

Fleets will lead the way in using NG-powered trucks in the short term, said Kelly Mills, Western sales manager for Westport Fuel Systems Inc. Eventually, owner-operators will get involved when the vehicles enter used truck markets and are more affordable.

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