Love's Committed to Expanding CNG Availability

Poised to open its compressed natural gas location, retailer also adds to its own NGV fleet

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

Loves compressed natural gas (CNG)

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Love's Travel Stops is expanding its commitment to compressed natural gas (CNG) with its 11th planned fueling location, opening at its Amarillo, Texas, travel stop. The company expects the site, which will offer fast-fill CNG fueling capability for heavy-duty trucks, to open by the second quarter of 2014.

"Our expansion signifies the natural progression of working with fleets interested in the fuel cost savings offered by Love's Fast-Fill CNG," said Jon Archard, director of fleet sales at Love's. He cited a $2-per-gallon-equivalent savings for CNG over diesel as a strong motivator for fleets to convert.

Love's Travel Stop's CNG journey began back in 2011 with an Oklahoma site opened in partnership with natural-gas provider Chesapeake Energy Corp. In Texas, the travel-stop operator plans to establish a base of eight CNG sites between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio (watch the embedded video).

Most operators who sell CNG find an anchor tenant to help establish the new fuel offer, which is a significant infrastructure investment. For the Amarillo site, Love's has already attracted the interest of Dillon Transport Inc., a distributor of asphalt and biodiesel, among other products. The company's fleet includes more than 400 trucks and 700 trailers, 10 of which are CNG-powered trucks.

"We are planning for these trucks to fuel at the Amarillo Love's location," said Charles Musgrove, vice president of Dillon Transport. "We are committed to natural gas as a transport fuel and look forward to fielding more CNG units over the next two quarters in Texas."

As part of its expansion into Amarillo, Love's has also acquired 55 CNG-powered trucks for its own fuel hauling fleet, which includes five CNG trucks for the Amarillo site. It's a move that other retailers who have embraced CNG--for example, Kwik Trip Inc., La Crosse, Wis.--have made to help them better understand and anticipate CNG customers' needs, and save on their own fuel costs.

"By introducing CNG into our private truck fleet, Gemini Motor Transport, Love's is better able to anticipate our customer's fueling needs," Archard said. "We know solutions that work for our fleet can work for our customer as well."

To encourage faster adoption of CNG, retailers are advised to offer the same or similar fueling experience to filling up with gasoline or diesel. For Love's Travel Stops, that means providing a fill rate of at least 10 gallons per minute in all of its fueling lanes, which would enable a driver to fill a 100 gallon-equivalent tank in 10 minutes or less.

Love's Travel Stops that will offer fast-fill CNG in Texas include its Fort Worth, Dallas, Rockwall, Houston, Katy, San Antonio, Seguin and soon, Amarillo locations. It also has two sites in Oklahoma City that offer the fuel.

Founded in 1964 by Tom Love, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. is based in Oklahoma City and remains entirely family-owned and operated. It has more than 310 locations and 180 Love's Truck Tire Care centers in 39 states.