5 autogas barriers

October 9, 2015 By    

lpg1015-autogas-2Tim Lease, the energy division manager at Premier Cooperative in Black Earth, Wis., shares his five theories on why propane autogas hasn’t taken off in the United States at a pace the fuel’s advocates believe it can:

1. Government regulations. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations regarding engine approval slow market growth.

“You have to spend thousands of dollars and months to get new engines approved,” he says. “In Europe they go, ‘OK, it’s autogas. We know it burns cleaner than gasoline and will meet emission requirements.’”

In addition, Lease says getting approval for new refueling sites can be a challenge – at least in Wisconsin.

2. The natural gas lobby. Propane offers clear advantages over natural gas, but Lease says the propane lobby isn’t as powerful as the natural gas lobby.

“When was the last time you heard a commercial about powering your vehicle on propane?” he asks. “I didn’t see T. Boone Pickens touting the benefits of propane. I did see him flapping his jaws about natural gas.”

The propane lobby’s pockets simply aren’t deep enough to gain relevant access to government leaders, Lease adds.
“The natural gas lobby has our leaders’ ears,” he says.

3. Resistance to change. Many propane retailers simply haven’t embraced the concept of propane as a motor fuel.
“Our industry doesn’t use it ourselves, so how can we tell the story?” Lease asks. “I am going to be submitting my budget for the next fiscal year, and I will be putting in requests for refuelers, as well as conversions for some of our company vehicles.”

4. Conversion companies. Some companies don’t bother to follow EPA guidelines, which could be a detriment to the market’s long-term success.

“If the system isn’t EPA approved, it will void the warranty,” says Lease, who adds that a defective, unsafe or shoddy installation is a turnoff for potentially interested buyers.

5. Pricing. Autogas isn’t as cost competitive in the U.S. as it is in Europe, where gasoline and diesel prices are much higher.

“They tax the [heck] out of their citizens so they’re paying much more for these products than us,” Lease says. “The higher the gasoline and diesel prices, the better autogas looks.”

1 Comment on "5 autogas barriers"

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  1. Until the Propane Industry embraces Autogas why would others do so. How can you explain to your new Autogas customer why we deliver Autogas to their fueling site in a diesel powered bobtail. How can we explain to our new Autogas customers why the crane truck that set their new Autogas dispenser runs on diesel? The next time you are at a local Propane Industry Association Event ask for a show of hands on who actually drove there in an Autogas vehicle. You will see two hands in 50. I respect all of your points and agree on your assessment. The one thing our industry has complete control over is the fleets we choose to operate. Only when the Industry decides to use Autogas will the Autogas market ever have a hope. I am not holding my breath for that to EVER happen.

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