Vancouver, British Columbia-based Westport Innovations and Japan-based Isuzu Truck have introduced a new compressed natural gas (CNG) powered commercial truck for the North American market. The Isuzu N-series, known as the ELF in Japan, is marketed mainly at local delivery, food service, towing, and light construction applications. The 4.5-liter ELF CNG-DI is a direct-injection diesel-cycle-style truck that runs completely on CNG, Westport spokesman John Cryer said.“It has the same thermal efficiency, low-end torque, and other performance characteristics of an equivalent diesel-powered truck, but its runs quieter with far less emissions,” Cryer said. The truck being introduced this week has two tons of payload capacity and is being touted for mostly city-driving areas where air quality has become a major issue, such as Los Angeles and Houston. Cryer added that both companies expect the CNG-powered truck to achieve a 12 to 18 month payback for commercial fleets because it uses lower-cost natural gas instead of diesel fuel and potential tax incentives to spur reductions in truck emissions. ”The biggest issues facing this truck are the need for governments to reduce oil imports and improve energy security, while making sure fleets don’t have to give up anything in terms of price, performance, and reliability,” Cryer said.