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Navistar, Pickens Group in Natural Gas Truck Deal

Clean Energy Fuels, noted investor T. Boone Pickens' natural gas distribution vehicle, got more gas Wednesday, when NavistarInternational said it would start making truck engines that use alternative fuels.

Boone T. Pickens
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Boone T. Pickens

The exclusive agreement “gives our customers a way to get into alternative fuels and get a return on the investment they make, like immediately. It’s a great commercial answer for alternative fuels,” Navistar CEO Dan Ustian told CNBC, after his company reported 2012 earnings guidance of $5 to $5.75 a share, below analyst expectations of $5.90.

Demand for alternative fuel is “over the top,” he said, and to meet it he predicts the company will get new trucks on the road “within the next six months.”

Pickens, CEO of BP Capital Management and a longtime advocate for putting natural gas in American trucks, said in the same interview that Clean Energy will build more than 100 natural gas filling stations on several major U.S. highways this year.

“You’re saving $1.50 a gallon” using natural gas, Pickens said. “Some of these trucks are running 20,000 to 30,000 gallons a year. The return on it is great. It’s cleaner by 30 percent over diesel, but (the fuel) is also ours. It’s abundant and it’s domestic.”

Using natural gas “completely cuts out OPEC,” he said. “That's what I'm after.”

Pickens would also like to see more autos using natural gas, but the automakers have been hesitant.

“There's nothing wrong with the automakers,” he said. “They all know the technology. They have it. They say, ‘Just get us the customers, we'll make you the vehicles.’”