Fuel Smarts

Westport Dropping 15-Liter LNG Engine for North America

October 31, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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Natural gas truck engine producer Westport Innovations plans to stop taking orders for its North American 15-liter model after Nov. 15.

The development was disclosed in the company’s latest earnings report, released Oct. 30, in which it reported a net loss of $30.2 million dollars in the third quarter of the year, down slightly from a $32.5 million loss in 2012.

Speculation started nearly a month ago that Westport was abandoning its 15L LNG model, which is the only 15-liter natural gas engine for trucks available in North America.

Sales of the model have reportedly been weak, with only around a thousand sold, since it hit the market several years ago.

It uses a combination of Westport’s HPDI (high-pressure direct injection) natural gas technology with a Cummins ISX model long block.

“Westport on-road business strategy is to provide HPDI  as a vertically integrated solution for engine and truck OEMs. The current generation of HPDI on the Westport 15L engine is still assembled in Vancouver [British Columbia using an upfit process. Westport's production focus is shifting from an upfit model to vertical integration of Westport's next generation of HPDI for targeted OEMs,” the company said in its earnings report.

Westport says it will continue to offer the 15-liter model for trucking customers in Australia for the “foreseeable future.”

Last year, Westport announced it was working to develop a 13-liter heavy duty natural gas engine for North America with Volvo that is expected to launch next year.

Comments

  1. 1. Jab8283 [ October 31, 2013 @ 11:34AM ]

    I don't know if this is good or bad. We need this engine and given time maybe the market will turn around. Right now the extra high cost for the option precludes many companies from affording them. Second is the lack of infrastructure. Having a LNG vehicle would be great, but where can we refuel especially in a pinch? Then if I understood the latest reports, these optional LNG vehicles are heavier in weight than diesel equipped trucks. I would love to own and drive a Class-8 LNG tractor but right now I can't afford one, there is no place to get fuel in my area. Weight is not an issue with me but for some fleets it's everything especially factoring in the weight of aux-engines for downtime hotel loads and comfort. Yeah we need this equipment but the penalty is it's weight being that LNG needs specialized storage solutions.

  2. 2. Horacio Bellofiore [ November 01, 2013 @ 03:51AM ]

    Clean Energy Fuels in association with GE has recently launched a program to financially assist new buyers that want to transition from diesel to LNG powered trucks.

  3. 3. GREG FOREMAN [ November 01, 2013 @ 02:23PM ]

    This development really is not surprising. I anticipate further such announcements from various segments of the industry will come to light over the next year. LNG powered vehicles are the equivalent of the 19th century snake oil products. I'm will to agree that LNG powered trucks may have a “logistics niche” in the trucking industry(basically around localized, short haul deliveries). However, that “niche” could and would be better served by utilization of propane fueled vehicles. There are more than enough sound reasons for propane utilization. After all, propane is more accessible across the country. A distribution system for propane is already established and available. Expansion of the current propane distribution system to further service the trucking industry can be accomplished for easier and for far less expense than development and or establishment of a natural gas distribution system. The “typical” natural gas pumping station for can cost anywhere from $500K to $1KK to construct and install. Propane pumping stations can be installed for a fraction of such cost. The typical cost of installation, at least for commercial customers, is “bore” by the distributor selling the propane. The typical propane pumping stations is an amalgam of a pressure vessel tank and a pumping unit.

  4. 4. GREG FOREMAN [ November 01, 2013 @ 02:25PM ]

    (CONTINUED) The typical cost of installation, at least for commercial customers, is “bore” by the distributor selling the propane. The typical propane pumping stations is an amalgam of a pressure vessel tank and a pumping unit. From a mileage standpoint, though less than diesel, a propane fueled vehicle has a greater operational range, by 2.50 times, and is more fuel efficient than natural gas fueled vehicle. Plus, when refueling is required, propane is more accessible than natural gas. Furthermore, Propane is not considered a GHG(Green House Gas) as opposed to natural gas which is classified as a GHG. In addition, Propane is a “natural” by product of the refining either natural gas or oil. From a purchasing standpoint, CNG trucks cost anywhere $50K to $100K more than comparable diesel rigs A propane fueled trucks cost an average of $10K to $20K more than a comparable diesel truck. All in all, from just about any measure and/or comparisons, natural gas is simply NOT the alternative fuel for the trucking industry—even for the “niche” segments of the industry employing the fuel. The same goals and objectives are achievable for less cost with propane than conversion to natural gas.

 

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