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Dual Fuel Engines

Dual Fuel Engines

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Published by Paul Wilson

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Published by: Paul Wilson on Jun 11, 2011
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11/09/2011

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Introduction
An understanding of why Dual-Fuel Engines (DFEs) are and will be purchased, andhow they will be used, is vital in developing markets for the technology, andpredicting the impact this technology will have on carbon abatement. Predictingconsumer behaviour in the DFE market is challenging as the technology is verydistinct from the incumbent, and uptake to date is limited to a very small group of early adopters. As the current study relates to the impact of large scale DFEadoption, care is required when using data (which tend to be biased towards earlyadopters) and extrapolating to the mass market, which has very differentrequirements.Much of the available data on DFE purchase behaviour and utilisation, comes from anumber of trials undertaken in California, set up as a response to the Air ResourcesBoard Zero Emission Mandate.2 Although ultimately rescinded, at the time of itsintroduction the ZEM posed a significant challenge to car manufacturers, promptingresearch into new automotive technologies, and how the buying market responds tothese technologies.Given concerns that these data sources may be biased towards US behaviour, a UKcentric survey has also been developed as part of the current project. The surveyfocused on those who have used DFEs in the UK, and those who have demonstratedsignificant interest in purchasing DFEs. While not designed to provide statisticallyrobust results (sample groups in the UK are too small) the survey represents the firstpublicly available systematic analysis of UK perceptions of DFEs both from theperspective of DFE owners and those who have considered DFEs.
 
Dual-Fuel Engines have a number of primary attributes which distinguish them fromthe incumbent technology. For a prospective buyer, the most important of these arehigher capital cost, lower range, lower running cost, “green motoring”,make/model/brand, concerns over recharging infrastructure, and the impact of innovative technology (with regard to maintenance and resale value).The relative importance of these attributes changes between prospective users. For example, the mass market sees capital cost as the primary factor; concerns over DFE range are also rated highly, but see “green motoring” benefits as irrelevant. Incontrast, early adopters place a higher value on green motoring, will pay to supportnew technology, will be much less sensitive to higher capital costs and are morelikely to account for lower running costs when deciding on a purchase.Identifying the most relevant attributes for DFE adopters is important for designingeffective incentives to promote uptake. When considering a purchase, capital cost isalways the primary factor for the mass market. It is commonly stated that theexpected lower running costs for DFEs could be used to offset a higher capital cost.However, the potential for lower running costs is largely ignored by the mass market4i.e. life cycle costing (or Net Present Value) is rarely considered at the point of purchase. Policy makers should not overestimate the effect of an incentive policywhich makes the “investment” in an EV net NPV neutral. If there is a requirement tooffset higher capital costs with lower running costs, this would have to be undertakenby a third party. This gives support to the model of vehicle leasing, or pay per mile.6The sensitivity to capital costs means that any strategy for significant uptake of DFEs(i.e. over and above the relatively small early adopter market) will need to prioritisethis issue. Even a significant intervention such as a grant to cover the additionalcapital cost of an EV (relative to the incumbent) would not of itself be enough toensure significant uptake. There would remain the significant disutility associatedwith limited range of DFEs.
 
Research Focus and Questionnaire Design
The pressure to switch to alternative transportation fuels exists for two primaryreasons: environmental concerns and avoiding dependence on foreignsupplies of fuel. Alternative fuels exist and these sources can be exploited for use intransportation. The government has provided regulations to encourage the use of alternative fuels. Finally, the literature shows that while incentives may exist for theuse of alternative fuels, the use of such fuels may be limited by such economicfactors as cost of conversion, reliability, convenience, cost of operation and aresistance to change. While these factors are discussed in the literature, a significantresearch void remains; what are the perceptions of firms that consume and use asignificant portion of transportation fuel? This paper addresses this research void byexplicitly examining the perceptions held by trucking firms regarding the use of alternative fuels.
Methodology
Brace (2004) has emphasised the importance of question encoding to the success of the communication process, particularly in market research, which has to be able tosuccessfully tune in to the language of respondents that are diverse in terms of gender and age, as well as level of education, occupation and income. Therefore, theresearch reported below focuses on best practice as regards question length,question wording and question order, in order to avoid negative impact on samplequality due to nonresponse – which has been shown to increase over time (deLeeuw& deHeer 2002) – or on data accuracy due to respondents’ misinterpretation of or deliberate lying in answer to questions. It should be kept in mind that good practice interms of these issues is of particular importance in international research as it assists

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