Third-party logistics provider Kane Is Able claims a group of compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered Volvo VNL tractors it purchased last year are defective and unsafe, leading one of them to catch on fire and explode back in January. With the cause of the fire still unresolved, Kane has sued Volvo and the trucks' engine and fuel system makers, and Volvo says it believes the claims against it "are without merit."

The three defendants — Volvo Trucks, Cummins Westport and Agility Fuel Systems — all deny Kane's claims in statements to Fleet Owner.

From news at the time and the case background provided in Kane's complaint, there's a striking about-face surrounding the CNG tractor purchase. In late July 2014, the arrival of Kane's seven Volvos promising better fuel efficiency and lower emissions was cause for a media event and praise from local officials at the Scranton, PA-based company. Pete Westermann, then Kane's president and CEO, stated that "adding these natural gas trucks to our fleet makes good fiscal and environmental sense."

A little more than five months later, one of the Volvos — which had logged about 3,000 mi. — burst into flames while hauling a load down I-81. It was Friday evening, Jan. 2, at about 6:45 p.m. when the fire started some 40 mi. north of Scranton, according to Kane, which has also released what it says is a video of the event filmed by a passerby.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather data for the area show the day had a high of 40 deg. F and a low of 26, which followed three days of slightly deeper cold; the sun had set two hours before the incident, almost to the minute. 

Kane notes that there were no injuries. "Thankfully, the driver was not injured and the fire occurred on a remote stretch of I-81," a spokesman for Kane tells Fleet Owner.

According to Kane's civil complaint, the fire "caused total destruction of the tractor, the attached Kane trailer and customer cargo." Kane is joined in the lawsuit by the insurers that covered the truck and cargo, and seeks to return the remaining CNG Volvos under warranty and be repaid for the whole of the fleet purchase and other related damages claimed.