1 Compressed Natural Gas Study for Westport Light Duty, Inc. Kelley Blue Book Irvine, California April 3, 2012
2 2 Overview Westport Light Duty is part of the Westport Innovations company, a leader in the field of natural gas engine technology. Westport LD has acquired the technology and the personnel to modify Ford F-series trucks for operation on compressed natural gas (CNG) and its work is certified by the Ford Motor Company. Beginning in 2012, Westport will be offering these services to customers who choose to operate Ford trucks on CNG or in a bi-fuel mode (capable of operating on CNG or gasoline). These modified trucks can be sold through Ford-franchised dealerships, but Westport s sales efforts will initially be concentrated in the commercial fleet companies. The study commissioned by Westport LD is to have Kelley Blue Book determine the likely future used car values (i.e., residual value) of a CNG Ford F-series truck. Executive Summary Westport LD s proposition for converting Ford Super Duty trucks to CNG bi-fuel looks promising, especially in a favorable market where gasoline prices are climbing. The key factor will be convincing truck buyers that they can save enough from lower fuel expense to offset the higher cost that accompanies modifications that allow the engine to run on CNG. One item that will be examined closely will be the price of CNG conversion, currently set at $9,750. Kelley Blue Book s analysis has determined that in the most likely scenario, Super Duty residual values for a CNG truck will recover some but not all of the conversion cost. Tax credits could make a significant difference, but since they are currently offered at the local level (not at the federal level), it was not included in the analysis. However, should the duty cycle require more than 15,000 miles annually or if gasoline rises above $3.60 a gallon, breakeven becomes more likely. Several alternatives are included in the report for Westport LD s consideration. Methodology The purpose of the study is to develop a forecast of likely residual values for a Ford Super Duty truck that has been modified for use with both CNG and gasoline fuels. This can be achieved by performing an analysis that determines the difference in auction values between equivalent bifuel and gasoline-powered vehicles. However, bi-fuel vehicles are relatively new to the market and data on bi-fuel vehicles are even more sparse than for CNG-only vehicles. Therefore, the study focused on quantifying the difference in auction value between a CNG-only vehicle and its gasoline-engine counterpart. Currently, the only CNG-only vehicle produced by a major manufacturer is the Honda Civic GX sedan. Therefore, this vehicle, along with the Civic LX
3 3 sedan, was selected for this analysis. At this point, the marketplace does not contain sufficient data on bi-fuel vehicles and its effect has to be estimated. Upon review, it was determined that almost 90% of all Civic GX s were auctioned in either California or Nevada for model years 2004 through For these model years, auction data was available on both trims. In order to minimize the impact of regional effects, the analysis was limited to transactions occurring in these two states for both the GX Sedan and LX Sedan trims. As the GX trim is only available with an automatic transmission, the analysis was further restricted to the automatic version of the LX trim. In order to maintain the maximum number of observations, all registration types (rental, retail, fleet, and lease) were included and normalized for the analysis. Only vehicles in excellent, very good, and good conditions were included and the transactions were normalized for the various condition types. A total number of 150 GX transactions and 3,559 LX transactions (with automatic transmission) were used, with the following distribution of vehicles by state and trim: Trim CA NV Total GX LX 2, ,559 Model years 2004 and 2007 hold the majority of the transactions as shown in the table below. Model Year # of GX vehicles A log-linear regression was applied where mileage curve and seasonal effects (shape) were preestimated based on auction data of the entire compact car segment (to enhance statistical significance), in view of the sparse data for the pool of Honda Civics LX/GX. The regression model utilized the following variables: Intercepts on model years and trims Mileage Condition (Three levels: excellent, very good, and good). Vehicle age (two coefficients for vehicles 2 years or older)
4 4 Registration type (four levels: rental, retail, fleet, lease) Economic variables: a) log of gasoline price, natural gas price. b) consumer confidence index (CCI) all interacted with trim (LX or GX) The model used the log of the auction price as the response variable. Gas price and natural gas price also enter on a log scale as dependent variables. This explains relative effects of gas/natural gas prices on the auctions values. Economic Assumptions As mentioned in the methodology section above, the regression model that was developed includes the price of fuel for both natural gas and for gasoline, and for consumer confidence. The charts below depict the fuel assumptions used in the analysis, which comes from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. It assumes that the price of gasoline will remain approximately flat for the next 5 years, adjusting for cyclical patterns. The price of natural gas, on the other hand, is expected to rise gradually over the next five years.
5 5 Consumer confidence, taken from The Conference Board, steadily rises from todays level to plateau out at slightly more than 110 (see below). Results of the Analysis With MSRPs shown in the table below, the GX trim carries a premium ranging from $5,300 to $7,730 higher than the LX trim despite being similarly equipped. Model Year MSRP GX Premium GX LX 2004 $21,250 $15,850 $5, $21,460 $16,160 $5, $25,035 $17,305 $7, $25,225 $17,595 $7, $25,260 $18,430 $6, $25,900 $18,965 $6,935
6 6 Prior to 2008, the gap in auction values of MY GX and LX trims were not that pronounced (percent estimate). However, in recent years, the GX trim has produced significantly higher values at auction, presumably due to significant gas price hikes that began in Using the estimated effects from the model, the gas and natural gas price effects were isolated and the expected values at auction for both trims were estimated in relation to one other, assuming all other effects (vehicle specific and economic) remain the same. Applying the values for gas and natural gas prices provided by the EIA, the price relationship between the GX and LX trim are displayed below over time, independent of gas and natural gas prices. Residual Value Forecast The forecast for the GX is fairly mechanical once the premium for the GX is established through the regression model. For each of the terms listed on the following table, residual values for the LX trim can be obtained from the Kelley Blue Book Official Residual Value Guide. The residual value, listed in percentage form in the guide book, is converted into a dollar value. The GX Premium established from the regression model described in the previous section is applied to the LX residual value (in dollars) to arrive at the GX residual value (in dollars). Subtracting the LX residual value from the GX residual value yields the GX Premium in dollars for each term.
7 7 LX Residual Value GX Residual Value GX Minus LX Term Percent a Dollars b GX Premium c Dollars d Percent e Dollars % $12, % $16, % $3, % $10, % $13, % $2, % $8, % $11, % $2, % $7, % $9, % $1,964 a From the Kelley Blue Book Official Residual Value Guide for March-April 2012 b Conversion of residual percentage into dollars using the LX List Price of $19,425 c GX Premium is the output from the regression analysis described in Results of the Analysis d GX residual in dollars obtained by applying the GX Premium to the LX residual value in dollars e GX residual in percent from dividing GX residual in dollars by the GX List Price of $26,925 f GX Premium in dollars obtained by subtracting the LX residual from the GX residual Note that this methodology is essentially the same as used to forecast residual values for the GX that appear in the Kelley Blue Book Residual Value Guide. As discussed previously, this methodology works well for the Civic GX, a CNG-only vehicle. This study applies the same assumption to the Westport LD-modified F250 pickup, which conservatively ignores the bi-fuel aspect of the modified vehicle. The premium achieved on the GX is related to the amount of fuel savings. As gas prices rise, the gap between the GX and the LX increases. This relationship is used to forecast the premium the bi-fuel F250 will deliver over a gasoline-powered F250. To begin, the fuel savings realized from the GX is calculated as follows: LX EPA mileage is 28 city, 39 highway or 32 miles per gallon combined GX EPA mileage is 27 city, 38 highway or 31 miles per gallon combined With gasoline averaging $3.60 a gallon and assuming 15,000 miles per year, the LX fuel costs are: 15,000 miles / 32 miles per gallon = 469 gallons per year 469 gallons x $3.60 per gallon = $1,688 per year A similar calculation can be performed for the GX. For natural gas, a good price would be the equivalent of $2.00 per gallon. The annual cost for fuel is then: 15,000 miles / 31 miles per gallon = 484 gallons per year 484 gallons x $2.00 per gallon = $968 per year
8 8 This means the average savings from the GX amount to $720 per year. The three-year premium for the GX is $2,725. The ratio of the GX premium to annual fuel savings is 3.78, which will be used to calculate the premium for a bi-fuel F250. The gas version of the F250 Crew Cab XL truck with an 8-foot bed gets an estimated 13 miles per gallon combined (note: this is estimated off the EPA rating for an F150 as EPA ratings are not performed for heavy-duty trucks). Assuming an average of 15,000 miles driven per year and gasoline costing an average of $3.60 per gallon, the cost of driving a gas-powered F250 Crew Cab can be calculated as follows: 15,000 miles / 13 miles per gallon = 1,154 gallons per year 1,154 gallons per year x $3.60 per gallon = $4,154 per year On a bi-fuel heavy-duty truck, gas mileage is essentially the same whether the engine is running on gasoline or CNG. The annual savings from driving a bi-fuel CNG F250 Crew Cab is computed in this fashion: 1,154 gallons per year x $2.00 per gallon = $2,308 per year Recognizing that the bi-fuel vehicle will likely not be in the CNG mode all the time, an estimate of 70% is used to weight the fuel savings. CNG usage at 70% $2,308 x 70% = $1,616 Gasoline usage at 30% $4,154 x 30% = $1,246 Weighted Average $2,862 The savings from the bi-fuel F250 can now be computed as follows: Savings from 70% CNG usage = $4,154 - $2,862 = $1,292 per year Applying the factor derived from the Civic GX analysis to the F250 Crew Cab gives the following: 3.78 x $1,292 = $4,890 The conclusion from the Civic GX analysis is that the premium it commands over the Civic LX is a function of the gap between gasoline prices and CNG prices. Applying the factor derived from the GX to the F250, the bi-fuel F250 Crew Cab is expected to carry a $4,900 premium at three years over the value of a gas-engine F250 Crew Cab.
9 9 Empirical Review of CNG and Bi-Fuel Vehicles In addition to the analysis described above, Kelley Blue Book also contacted a number of companies in the commercial fleet field and sought perspectives from professionals in this line of work. The basic feedback received is that the lack of infrastructure for CNG is a limiting factor for this technology. In fact, it is estimated that only about a thousand CNG fueling stations exist across the entire U.S. This means that drivers of CNG vehicles will be exposed to range anxiety. The intensity of this feeling will vary by metro localities, as evidenced by the relative abundance of refueling stations in some locales (Oklahoma City is a good example). Vehicles used for a fixed route or on a return-to-base routine would also help alleviate range anxiety. For these reasons, the current sentiment appears to be that CNG will be relegated to a niche market, but as fuel prices rise, CNG could become a more attractive alternative to a conventional gas-engine vehicle. Obviously, a bi-fuel vehicle would eliminate range anxiety. Bi-fuel vehicles would operate primarily in the CNG mode, and for the majority of time, would allow the driver to get to a CNG refueling station without needing to switch over to gasoline. Still, the thinking is that hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and diesels will continue to prevail over CNG vehicles during periods of high fuel prices because they have an infrastructure in place that supports their fuel type. Evaluation of Westport s Marketing Plans With gas prices continuing to rise, it would appear that Westport LD s timing for the launch of the bi-fuel CNG pickup trucks could not be better. Hydraulic fracturing techniques have opened up vast reserves of natural gas in the US and continue to contribute to the relatively low price of CNG at the pump. Westport LD s ramp up to 3,000 conversions per year should also help keep residual values up as it doesn t appear to be in excess of the demand that is building for this product. While the gap between the price of gasoline and the price of CNG appears to favor the latter, Kelley Blue Book continues to believe buyers will look at the cost of ownership as a guide when making their purchase decision. From this perspective, some obstacles begin to appear when evaluating the launch of a bi-fuel heavy-duty pickup. The cost of conversion is a key determinant to the success of this effort. Westport LD intends to price Ford Super Duty pickup trucks at $9,750. To test how competitive this will be, the analysis on cost of ownership can be performed in this fashion: Purchase Cost + Operating Cost Residual Value = Cost to Own (Note that insurance, taxes, maintenance costs, etc. have not been included. Insurance and taxes are expected to remain roughly the same. Although maintenance costs are expected to
10 10 be lower for CNG vehicles, it proved difficult to quantify and have been conservatively excluded). The purchase cost is easy to determine, as it is $9,750 more for the bi-fuel CNG version. The operating cost is expected to be the same except for fuel. As shown in the Residual Value Forecast section above, the fuel cost savings is expected to be $1,292 per year. Also, from the Residual Value Forecast section, the bi-fuel premium for the F250 at three years is expected to be $4,900. Putting it all together, the cost of ownership for the CNG F250 Crew Cab XL looks like this: $9,750 - $1,292 x 3 years - $4,900 = $974 This means that the CNG F250 will cost roughly $1,000 more over a three-year period compared to its gas-powered equivalent, assuming an average of 15,000 miles driven each year. This assumes gas averages $3.60 a gallon while natural gas averages an equivalent $2 per gallon and bi-fuel F250 truck drivers manage to operate on CNG 70% of the time over a threeyear period. The breakeven for this analysis can be calculated in a couple of ways. First, the mileage driven could be more than 15,000 per year. It turns out that the bi-fuel CNG truck will have the same cost of ownership as the gas-powered truck if the owner drives an average of 18,770 miles per year, assuming gas averages $3.60 a gallon, CNG averages an equivalent $2 per gallon, and the driver is using CNG 70% of the time. Another way the breakeven can be performed is by examining the price of gasoline. From this perspective, if gas rises to $4.00 per gallon, the CNG truck will have the same cost of ownership as the gas-powered truck, assuming 15,000 miles driven per year. Confidence Intervals As shown by the graph on page 6, the regression model provides an estimate for the upper and lower ends of the forecast for the GX premium over the LX. This can be useful in gauging the range over which values for the bi-fuel F250 may exist after three years. The following table summarizes results from the statistical model which shows confidence intervals at the 95% level: GX Confidence Interval GX Minus LX Term Lower Upper Lower Upper 24 $14,886 $17,727 $2,066 $4, $12,292 $14,627 $1,608 $3, $10,254 $12,217 $1,319 $3, $8,908 $10,636 $1,138 $2,866
11 11 From the upper and lower confidence interval, the range of possible values for a three-year old bi-fuel F250 can be determined as shown below. GX Annual F250 Annual Est. F250 3-Yr Owner- GX Premium Fuel Savings Ratio Fuel Savings Premium ship Cost Upper $3,943 $ $1,292 $7,075 -$1,201 Base $2,725 $ $1,292 $4,890 $984 Lower $1,608 $ $1,292 $2,885 $2,989 This means that at the upper end, it is possible that the premium that a bi-fuel F250 Crew Cab would command, along with the fuel savings over a three-year period, would be sufficient to cover the up-front cost of modifying an F250 to operate in a bi-fuel mode. At the lower end, the bi-fuel premium could be as low as $2,900 and would fall $3,000 short of covering the initial conversion cost. The most likely scenario is covered in the section above and requires either greater annual mileage or higher fuel costs to achieve the breakeven point. The Case For Converting CNG Trucks Back to Gas-Powered Trucks An alternative being considered by Westport LD is to convert the bi-fuel truck back to gasolineonly before disposing it at auction. In this scenario, Westport LD would save approximately $3,000 by recycling the CNG tank, which has an estimated life of about 20 years. However, the cost of getting the truck to a qualified outfitting shop and the cost of removing the tank is expected to run about $500. Therefore, the possible savings from recycling the fuel tank would be approximately $2,500 spread over two trucks. This would reduce the cost of conversion to $8,500 per truck if the entire savings were passed on to the customers. However, by removing the tank, the premium realized from the bi-fuel capability will be lost and there would be little economic value to the CNG tank. Therefore, the cost of ownership equation for the two trucks would then look like this: [$8,500 - $1,292 x 3 years] + [$8,500 - $1,292 x 3 years - $4,900] = $4,348 While breakeven is achieved on the second truck, the cost of ownership is over $4,000 on the first one. This is easy to see as the cost savings equals $2,500 but the lost premium on the bifuel capability is $4,900. For this reason, this scenario is not feasible. Kelley Blue Book Contacts Eric Ibara, Director, Residual Value Consulting Kelley Blue Book 195 Technology Drive 195 Technology Drive Irvine, California Irvine, California Vince Nelson, EVP, Analytic Insights Kelley Blue Book (949) (949)