The global market for natural gas-powered heavy trucks will expand 14 percent a year through 2019, with growth strongest in Asia, according to Pike Research.
Natural gas vehicle sales in Asia are boosted by government investment and an existing infrastructure needed to supply the fuel to truck operators, Pike said.
The firm also expects North America and Europe to see increasing natural gas vehicle sales because of emissions restrictions and rising diesel costs.
In 2011, the use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel increased 7.1 percent year-over-year and 38 percent from 2006, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show.
But compressed and liquefied natural gas still represent a drop in the bucket in terms of overall fuel use in the U.S. compared to diesel and gasoline.
Truck and engine manufacturers are responding to increased interest in compressed and liquefied natural gas vehicles among motor carriers.
For example, Cummins Westport will introduce a 12-liter natural gas engine in early 2013 designed for the regional and vocational trucking markets.
Westport has a partnership with Volvo Trucks to launch a 13-liter natural gas engine for the North American heavy-truck market in 2014.
Companies such as Clean Energy Fuels and Shell are partnering with truck stops to expand the liquid natural gas delivery network along major interstate corridors.