Medium and heavy duty vehicles represent less than 5% of the total vehicle market today, and the vast majority of these use conventional internal combustion engines powered by either gasoline or diesel. That is changing as less expensive alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, such as natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and electricity make inroads in the market.

Worldwide sales of alternative fuel vehicles will reach 14% of total sales of medium and heavy-duty vehicles by 2035, according to a new report from Navigant Research, a market research and consulting firm that provides analysis of global clean technology markets.

Natural gas fuel tank on a heavy-duty truck. Photo: Evan Lockridge

Natural gas fuel tank on a heavy-duty truck. Photo: Evan Lockridge

“Attractive business cases for medium and heavy duty alternative fuel vehicles are emerging across varying segments of the market,” says Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant Research.  “Natural gas has a significant advantage over most alternative fuels, in that low fuel costs and advances in infrastructure for both liquefied natural gas and fast-fill compressed natural gas make the fuel competitive in all market segments, including heavy duty long-haul trucking.”

The total number of medium and heavy-duty vehicles in use worldwide will nearly double between 2014 and 2035, according to the report, said Navigant. While diesel will remain the primary fuel choice for these vehicles throughout the forecast period, it forecasts the percentage powered by diesel is expected to fall from more than 79% in 2014 to 76% in 2035.

The full report is available on the Navigant Research website.