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Member Profile: Agility Fuel Solutions Strives to Make NGVs the Obvious Fleet Option

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December 5, 2016

Agility Fuel Solutions has pinpointed its role in the natural gas revolution. The Santa Ana–based vehicle fuel systems manufacturer is determined to lower the cost of NGVs and shrink the price gap between diesel and natural gas fuel systems.

That should drive the adoption of cleaner cars and trucks by fleets that are determined to reduce their emissions, said Seung W. Baik, chief legal officer of Agility Fuel Solutions. He points to the company’s October merger with Hexagon Composites as a major step forward in its efforts to cut costs and make NGVs an affordable, obvious choice for California’s fleets.

Driving down costs to spur adoption, clean up environment

“Our goal is to have a broad base of natural gas vehicle adoption by customers to clean up the environment. To do that, we have to drive down the costs of our fuel systems as much as possible. Vertical integration was an obvious step in that effort, and that compelled us to pursue a deeper relationship with Hexagon Composites,” said Baik, explaining that the two companies had been working together in a joint venture since 2015.

“Through the joint venture, we figured out how to work closely together, understand each other’s competencies and weaknesses, and support each other,” he added.

The merger of Agility Fuel Systems and Hexagon Composites’ CNG Automotive Products Division, which includes medium- and heavy-duty–vehicle composite cylinder manufacturing operations, created a new company called Agility Fuel Solutions. The company continues to offer all product lines and to operate as separate divisions selling through existing channels—it sells CNG fuel tanks through OEM channels to NGV manufacturers, for example, and fuel systems to OEMs, dealers, and end users. However, said Baik, “Our products will only improve because we offer both fuel systems and CNG cylinders.”

He described a continuous feedback loop from customers, inspiring tank innovations that will lead to the development of more-affordable, better-engineered fuel systems in the next two to three years.

“The voice of the end user reaching all the way back to the supply chain will help us build better cylinders and fuel systems,” said Baik. “Now that fuel system and cylinder engineers have a closer relationship, we can play around with the dimensions and capacity of the tank.”

Stakeholders need to join forces to push NGV solutions

Agility Fuel Systems also is playing the role of NGV evangelist. Baik has been telling the company’s clean transportation story to anyone who will listen, including large fleets that have already adopted NGVs, fleet operators considering NGVs, and legislators and others who influence state policy. He emphasized the need to join forces with other industry stakeholders to push natural gas solutions into the mainstream. And he has set his sights on the state’s ports as the next target for his message.

“The biggest near-term challenge is to clean up the L.A. and Long Beach ports,” said Baik. “The ports have made significant progress over the past 10 years with their Clean Air Action Plan, but there is still room for improving emission profiles of commercial vehicles in neighborhoods near the ports.” He said Agility would love to see policy makers combine funds from the Volkswagen settlement with incentives to use the near-zero NOx Cummins Westport engine technology and natural gas.

Baik pointed to the CNGVC as a critical player in achieving this goal. As a coalition of various players across the NGV industry, he said, the CNGVC can act as a “catalyst to combine all those different factions into one.”

He added, “We see the CNGVC as a critical coordinator for prioritizing the issues we need to focus our efforts on to accomplish our agenda in Sacramento and clean up the air in Southern California.”

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