Several Options Available for Contractors Who Want to Go Green

Truck manufacturers provide alternative-fuel power options at NTEA Work Truck Show.
Several Options Available for Contractors Who Want to Go Green
Isuzu Commercial Truck of America’s cab-forward 2018 FTR chassis powered by a 5.2L turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. (Photo by Ed Wodalski)

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With diesel and gasoline prices hanging steady around $2 a gallon, you probably haven’t given alternative-fueled vehicles much thought. But, should you?

At first glance, the math doesn’t add up. With CNG (compressed natural gas) selling at $2.11 a gallon at the end of July and gasoline selling at $2.20, driving an alternative-fueled truck can save you just 9 cents a gallon. Add in the higher purchase price (about $7,000), and there appears to be no chance to recoup your financial investment.

So why go green? Incentives might be one reason. Government grants can lower the purchase price and tax rebates can close the gap in fuel cost. Another reason might be to break away from the competition. As a “green” contractor you create fewer emissions, less noise and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Cleaner-burning fuels also mean less engine maintenance and a healthier work environment for your employees.


In the case of liquefied propane gas (LPG), there’s also the opportunity to expand your business by serving as a refueling station. One thing’s for certain — diesel and gasoline prices won’t stay low over the long term. Historically, prices have taken violent swings, as anyone familiar with fuel surcharges might recall. In contrast, abundant supplies of natural gas have held prices steady over time.

This year’s NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis showcased some of the latest advances in alternative fuel options. Here’s a quick look at what a few manufacturers had to offer:


The 100 percent electric, zero-emission E-Cell from Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America delivers over 60 miles in a single charge. Powered by four lithium-ion batteries, the vehicle can be recharged on a regular AC or fast-charging system. Designed primarily for delivery and fleet use, it offers clean-air alternatives for contractors in California and urban environments, such as Philadelphia and New York City.

With a GVWR of 13,230 pounds and payload capacity of 6,470 pounds, it has the potential of working as a delivery or parts truck in the onsite and portable sanitation sectors. With a seamless, one-speed transmission and 390-volt, air-cooled motor, the E-Cell operates at less than a whisper. Safety features include a crush bar in each door, energy-absorbing steering wheel, forward-swing doors, high-visibility halogen headlamps and pedestrian audible warning system.

Liquid propane

In areas where CNG is still not available, liquid propane gas offers a go-anywhere, clean-air option. The S2G LPG commercial chassis from Freightliner has a GVWR of 33,000 pounds and is powered by an 8L liquid propane engine that delivers 339 hp at 4,100 rpm and 495 ft-lbs of torque at 3,100 rpm. It has a 12,000-pound single front axle and 21,000-pound single rear axle with 60-gallon, right-hand-mounted LPG fuel tank. An Allison automatic transmission with PTO provision is standard.

On a smaller scale, Freightliner’s MT propane walk-in van chassis features a General Motors 6L V8 engine delivering 308 hp and 367 ft-lbs of torque at 4,400 rpm with an Allison 2000HS Series automatic transmission. The chassis has a GVWR of 23,000 pounds with 8,000-pound front axle and 13,000-pound rear axle. A 48-gallon LPG tank is mounted to the right side of the frame.

Natural gas

Peterbilt’s 337 chassis is equipped to operate on natural gas utilizing a Cummins Westport ISL-G engine and Agility CNG fuel system. The chassis can be configured as a truck or tractor and complies with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board emission regulations.

A bit of both

Kenworth’s T-880 straight truck with roll-off system is powered by a Cummins ISX12-G natural-gas-fueled engine that can operate on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). It does not require a diesel exhaust fluid tank, diesel particulate filter or selective catalytic reduction technology.

The 19,500-pound GVW Class 5 Hino COE 195H electric hybrid (also available with clean diesel powertrain) features a 5L J05E Series engine delivering 210 hp and 440 ft-lbs of torque, and comes with a six-speed Aisin A465 automatic transmission.

Ford also displayed its E-350/450 and F-650/750 cutaway chassis with dedicated CNG/propane packages. Both are available with a 6.8L Triton V-10 engine and TorqShift six-speed automatic overdrive transmission.


While not a true “green” machine, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America unveiled its new, environmentally friendly four-cylinder entry into the Class 6 medium-duty truck market.

The FTR chassis is powered by Isuzu’s 4HK1-TC 5.2L turbocharged diesel engine.

Although horsepower and torque ratings have not been finalized, the power plant will be mated to an Allison 2000 Series automatic transmission. The engine carries a B10 durability of 310,000 miles.

“This truck represents our vision of the future of the medium-duty truck industry,” says Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America.

Eight wheelbase configurations will accommodate bodies from 16 to 30 feet, allowing for a variety of body applications. The cab-forward 2018 FTR is scheduled to go into U.S. production mid-2017.


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