Pickens' natural-gas plan may prove boon to truck builders
Pickens wants buses and trucks that run on natural gas to replace the diesel and gasoline engines that some think contribute to global warming and increase U.S. oil imports that cost the country about $1 billion a day.
Legislation to spur investment in natural gas vehicles over diesel, which doubles a 2005 tax incentive, has enough support in the House and Senate to pass by the end of May, Pickens said Thursday during an interview in New York. Truck makers with natural gas technology will boost production when the bill passes.
“Kenworth’s got it, Peterbilt’s got it, Volvo, Cummins, they’ve all got it,” Pickens said. “This is going to happen.”
Peterbilt in August began taking orders for two new natural gas truck models made in Texas that use Cummins Westport engines. Cummins Westport is a venture with Westport Innovations Inc. Paccar, based in Bellevue, Wash., builds Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks.
Sweden’s Volvo AB, the world’s second-largest truckmaker, also makes trucks that run on natural gas, as well as flex-fuel vehicles that use either gas or diesel, the company said on its Web site.
The bill offers tax credits to cover 80 percent of the added cost to buy natural gas-fueled vehicles over conventional engines. The credits would reach as high as $12,500 for passenger cars and light trucks and as much as $64,000 for heavy vehicles, according to a summary of the legislation. Filling station tax credits would be doubled to as much as $100,000.
There are more than 250 million vehicles on the road in the United States and, of those, 142,000 are powered by natural gas, Pickens said. Pickens, whose plan for autos would initially emphasize heavy-duty trucks, said he’d like to see 1.3 million trucks running on natural gas by 2014.
Pickens in 2008 started a $60 million promotion for a national energy plan that relies on domestically produced natural gas and wind energy to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Now he’s focused on replacing fleet cars and trucks that run on gasoline with those that use cleaner-burning natural gas.
The Pickens measure has the support of Senator Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat and the majority leader, as well as Senators Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican.
Pickens said the investment in refueling stations would pay off in decreased dependence on oil from overseas. While a proliferation of natural-gas vehicles would raise the price of the fuel, he said it would still be cheaper than using gasoline or diesel.
Nat Gas is available at filling stations all over Europe. Many cars are dual fuel - gasoline or natural gas. Even in rather backward Poland you can get natural gas almost everywhere.
America has incredible natural gas reserves. Hell, there is practically a glut of the stuff. Why are we not using it to its full advantage? Why are we wasting time and money on stupid ideas like hydrogen-powered cars that are already proven to be a fraud? Natural gas powered vehicles are a proven, efficient, clean technology. It just works, and we have so much natural gas we have run out of places to store it.
We should be making a dramatic push to run our cars and trucks on natural gas. Imagine a future where our cars and light trucks were hybrid natural gas/plug in electric. Now that would be a HUGE step toward energy independence and also help the air quality and environment in a massive way. We could tell OPEC to drown in their oil for all we care.
There must be a reason we are not doing so. I'm sure US big oil has something do with it. However, even Exxon sees the future coming. Think it is a coincidence they just made a HUGE investment in natural gas?