A recent Pike Research report claims that sales of natural gas trucks and buses will steadily expand over the remainder of the decade, with more than 930,000 of these vehicles being sold worldwide from 2012 to 2019. This positive outlook for natural gas is shared by a majority of SAE Magazines online readers who responded to the poll question, “In the year 2020, which ‘alternative fuel’ will be most prevalent in medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles?” Thirty-five percent of the 262 total votes—cast from 44 countries—were for natural gas (CNG/LNG).
Biodiesel (24%) and electricity (21%) were in a tight battle for the second spot during the month-long poll that ended Feb. 15. Hydrogen at 11% and ethanol at 7% also received considerable support, while only 2% of respondents believe that propane (LPG/autogas) will be most prevalent in 2020.
Among U.S. respondents, who accounted for 47% (124 votes) of the total response, natural gas was more overwhelmingly the No. 1 alt-fuel choice at 50%. Biodiesel and electricity tracked closely to the overall tally, with 24% and 15% of U.S. votes, respectively. Ethanol (6%) came in ahead of hydrogen, which appears to be a less enthusiastic option in the States compared to elsewhere in the world, at only 4% (vs. 11% overall). Propane received just one vote, from a Rhode Island respondent.
Twenty-seven states plus the District of Columbia were represented in the poll results, with Michigan (16 votes), California (14), Texas (10), Pennsylvania (9), and Ohio (8) casting the most votes. Regional differences for alt fuels could be found. For example, enthusiasm for electricity is high in California, coming in second at 29% behind only natural gas (43%). In Michigan, 44% of the vote was for natural gas, followed by biodiesel (31%), electricity (12.5%), and hydrogen (12.5%). Six of the seven total U.S. votes for ethanol came from Midwestern states (Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, and Minnesota).
Regional preferences also could be detected globally. While natural gas prevailed in the U.S. and in India—the country with the second-most votes (44)—European countries tended to favor biodiesel and electricity. Biodiesel was voted the No. 1 alt fuel from respondents in the U.K., Belgium, Germany (tied with electricity), Greece, Denmark (tied with propane/autogas), and Norway (tied with electricity and ethanol). Electricity was the top choice in France, Poland, Romania, and Sweden. Many of these countries didn’t register a single vote for natural gas.
Biodiesel also ruled among South American countries that registered votes, including Brazil and Colombia.