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Highway Tractors

Two Technologies

There are two Canadian companies that supply natural gas engine systems for heavy highway tractors – Westport Innovations and Cummins Westport. In both cases, the natural gas engine systems are integrated into truck chassis at truck assembly facilities. Kenworth, Peterbilt, and Freightliner all offer natural gas trucks that incorporate Canadian engine technologies.

Westport_LNG3The Westport GX system is based on the 15 litre Cummins ISX engine with four engine ratings offered and up to 475 horsepower with 1,750 lb-ft of peak torque. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is used with a small amount of diesel (< 5%) for pilot ignition. The Westport  GX system offers  horsepower, torque, and efficiency that equals a diesel engine while reducing lifecycle carbon emissions by up to 25%. For a highway tractor that travels 160,000 kilometers per year, the carbon benefit would be an estimated 59 tonnes. Single and dual tank options are available with each tank holding 52 diesel litre equivalent. Tractor models that are currently available are the Kenworth T800, Peterbilt 286, 387, and 367.

For more Westport GX information


Freightliner_M2_112_CNGThe Cummins Westport ISL G is an 8.9 litre dedicated natural gas engine with five engine ratings and up to 320 horsepower with 1000 lb-ft of peak torque. The engine can operate on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Improvements compared with earlier generation technology mean that the ISL G has horsepower, torque, and durability comparable to a diesel engine. Fuel efficiency is within 10% of a diesel engine. For a port drayage tractor that travels 160,000 kilometers per year, the carbon benefit would be an estimated 42 tonnes. Various fuel tank configurations are available to meet fleet requirements. Tractor models that are currently available with the ISL G are the Freightliner M2 112, Kenworth 440, and Peterbilt 384. Cummins Westport recently announced that it plans to introduce an 11.9 litre ISX dedicated natural gas engine by 2013. Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here.

For more information on the ISL G

2005-06 Demonstration

Challenger_LNG_Demo_Truck2_2005In 2005-06 a five truck demonstration project took place in Ontario. The demonstration had funding support from Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada as well as contributions from Enbridge Gas Distribution and Westport Innovations. Challenger Motor Freight based in Cambridge, Ontario operated the five trucks over 700,000 kilometers on regular delivery routes between Ontario, Michigan, and New York. The demonstration confirmed that the Westport technology could perform satisfactorily and emissions testing conducted by Environment Canada following the demonstration verified the carbon and air quality benefits. Westport subsequently commercialized the GX technology in 2007 and achieved U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certifications.

Fleet Perspective


There are not currently any natural gas tractors in use in Canada except for engineering development vehicles owned by Westport Innovations. The lack of commercial LNG supply has been one factor that has limited market development, but this situation is changing as both Québec-based Gaz Métro and British Columbia-based Terasen Gas have announced plans to sell LNG for transportation use.

Robert Trucking, one of Canada’s largest for-hire trucking companies with an estimated 1,100 tractors and 2,300 employees, plans to buy at least 50 LNG trucks for use on line haul routes between Montréal and Québec City as well as Montréal and Toronto. Privately-held Robert is a leader in Canada’s trucking industry in terms of demonstrating and adopting more fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly technologies. A recently-published article profiled Robert Trucking’s interest in LNG tractors as a way to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions.