As reported by Successful Dealer last week, there was interesting discussion from OEM panelists at the recent Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo regarding residual values of natural gas trucks. 

Frank Bio, Director of Sales Development, Specialty Vehicles & Alternative Fuels for Volvo Trucks, summed up the situation nicely when he said, “There’s not many in supply and there’s not a lot of demand right now.”

Jason Cannon, the article’s author, hit on the issue more precisely, saying, “Fleets unsure of the truck’s resale value have been hesitant to commit sizable portions of their budget to trucks that can be difficult to sell for a yet-to-be-determined amount.”

This observation illustrates the chicken-egg scenario presently in place. With no published benchmark for used natural gas truck values, buyers might be more hesitant to buy and lenders to lend – but with few trucks sold, it’s difficult to publish a value.

NADA collects roughly 10% of the nation’s monthly retail and wholesale used truck sales, as measured by registration data. Going back 7 years, our database shows a grand total of three (3) natural gas trucks reported sold, and these were ISX LNG conversions, not the more common Westport 9L engine. Obviously, we have a long way to go before we can start performing any valuation analysis. 

The reason for the nonexistence of natural gas trucks in the secondary market is first and foremost the small percentage of the new truck market those trucks represent, even after greatly increased awareness and interest in the past two years. Also, these trucks are typically held by the original owner longer than diesel trucks, resulting in a longer wait for the iron to be resold.

It is true that selected fleets have recently announced substantial expansion of their NG fleets, but these trucks won't hit the secondary market for at least a few years. In addition, fleets frequently resell their iron directly to end users, keeping that data private.

Rest assured that NADA is doing everything possible to gather sales data on used natural gas trucks. Our AuctionNet partnership provides us with all Manheim and ADESA sales results, and we monitor other national and regional auctions as well. On the retail side, we always welcome new dealers to our sales reporting network. The more data we collect, the sooner we can publish values for these trucks. Just contact me at cvisser@nada.org if you’d like to become a reporting dealer.