Natural gas first?

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[Subhead] Natural Gas First?


Arguably, the star of the Boot Camp was a pre-production low-cab-forward International LoadStar with a refuse body. We were given a chance to drive the new truck and a briefing outlining many of its features.


The LoadStar won’t appear on International Dealers’ lots until July of next year. But, interestingly, when it does, it will debut with a compressed natural gas Cummins engine under the hood.


This may be the first time in decades that a Class 8 truck will appear on the North American market without a diesel powerplant under the hood.


I asked Steve Gilligan, vice president of product and vocational marketing at Navistar about this. He told me it was a bit of a perfect storm situation. For thing, the refuse industry – the primary market the LoadStar will focus on at first – is far, far ahead of the rest of the trucking industry in terms of natural gas engine adoption. In fact, Gilligan cited estimates that predict more than half of all new refuse trucks sold will be outfitted with natural gas engines as early as five years from now.


More to the point, Navistar didn’t want its current diesel engine dilemma to delay the planned LoadStar launch next summer. As alreadynoted, International will phase Cummins ISX15 engines into its product platform with the initial emphasis on the ProStar+.


Given those two considerations, launching the LoadStar with a natural gas engine makes perfect sense and will probably create a bit more of a buzz than one already gets with a major new product launch like this while giving refuse fleets an interesting and highly capable new vehicle to consider.