Electric Trucks? Diesel Engines Are Still King.

We hear a lot these days about the electrification of the nation’s fleets. Natural gas, hydrogen and propane vehicles also generate headlines, although to a lesser extent. 

This is, to some degree, to be expected given the trend toward sustainability in the fleet industry. Most fleets are trying to reduce their carbon footprints either because it’s a priority for their organization, for their customers or both. 

When it comes to how fleets are powered, the reality is the internal combustion engine is going to continue to dominate the market for years to come. As a result, when fleets are looking for a cleaner alternative to petroleum diesel, liquid biofuels like biodiesel will continue to be a top solution. 

That was one of the major messages at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in January — and it was one that was shared by those outside the biodiesel industry. 

“We know as a group that biodiesel is easy to use and versatile,” Linda Bluestein, National Clean Cities Co-Director, said in one of the conference’s sessions. “It’s got a really low cost of transition.”


Fleets, OEMs Support Biodiesel

Fleets and OEMs agreed.

“Biodiesel is very easy to use. It’s a drop-in fuel. You don’t have to have special infrastructure,” said Patti Earley, former president for NAFA Fleet Management Association.

George Survant, former Senior Director of Fleet Relations at NTEA — The Association for the Work Truck Industry, said biodiesel is favored among work trucks for its quality and good performance.

“Biodiesel stands on its own and has earned its way to the top of the heap,” he said.

As for OEMs, Ford, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and John Deere all had representatives speaking at sessions about their companies’ support for biodiesel blends. It was also noted that Cummins, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, allows B20 in all of its diesel engines, meaning the fuel is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. 

The reasons for all this support are clear. Biodiesel:

Often costs less than petroleum diesel.

  • Is a high-quality fuel backed by ASTM specifications.
  • Has performance benefits, including higher Cetane and lubricity than petroleum diesel. Fleets are also reporting fewer issues with after treatment systems, including diesel particulate filters, thanks to biodiesel’s cleaner burn. 
  • Is better for the environment and significantly decreases fleet emissions compared with petroleum diesel.
  • Works in existing vehicles and infrastructure at blends up to B20, making it one of the easiest renewable fuels for fleets to adopt.

Or as Patti Earley put it when noting that NAFA promotes all clean fuels: “I just think biodiesel is one of the easiest ones fleets can economically fit into their operations.”

To learn how your fleet could take advantage of the benefits of biodiesel, contact Chevron Renewable Energy Group today.


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