Interest in natural gas vehicles soared in the 1990s and then faded. Twenty years later, the cost of gasoline is going up while the cost of natural gas is going down. And that difference in price explains the resurgent interest in natural gas vehicles.
In Indiana, Fair Oaks Dairy Farm does more than just produce milk — it is also in the transportation business. The farm owns 60 trucks, which deliver milk to a processor halfway across the state. Last September, most of the trucks were converted to natural gas. "It's great," says Joel Romein, one of the drivers. "It's going to change the economy on how we use natural gas and how we fuel our trucks.
How much different is it to fuel it with natural gas as opposed to diesel? "It's a lot cleaner — I don't get messy hands," Romein answers with a laugh.
The dairy is in step with larger companies like AT&T and UPS, which have recently added natural gas to their trucking fleets.
Twenty years ago, the federal incentives and high gas prices led fleet managers to retrofit thousands of light trucks and city buses to use compressed natural gas as fuel. But, that boom didn't last.