EXCLUSIVE-Amazon orders more than 1,000 natgas engines for U.S. truck fleet

(Adds statement from Amazon, quote, details, background,)

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Inc has ordered more than 1,000 truck engines that run on compressed natural gas as it tests ways to shift its U.S. fleet away from heavier polluting trucks, the company told Reuters on Friday.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a surge in delivery activity for the likes of Amazon which saw sales soar 38% in 2020 , and similar uptick in activity for delivery vehicles that emit higher levels of pollution than passenger vehicles.

Transportation companies are building their stable of electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions. However, much of the nation’s freight is delivered via medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which account for more than 20% of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions even though they make up less than 5% of the road fleet, according to U.S. federal data.

“Amazon is excited about introducing new sustainable solutions for freight transportation and is working on testing a number of new vehicle types including electric, CNG and others,” the company said in a statement.

Electric-powered motors are considered less viable for heavy-duty trucks than for the average passenger vehicle.

The engines, supplied by a joint venture between Cummins Inc and Westport Fuel Systems Inc, are to be used for Amazon’s heavy duty trucks that run from warehouses to distribution centers. They can operate on both renewable and non-renewable natural gas, according to two sources familiar with the matter. (Reporting by Laura Sanicola; additional reporting by Tim Aeppel and Lisa Baertlein Editing by Marguerita Choy)