Debunking autogas myths

January 15, 2018 By    

Joy Alafia, president and CEO of the Western Propane Gas Association, takes a selfie with the student body of Sierra Enterprise Elementary School. The Propane Education & Research Council donated $5,000 to the school in recognition of Elk Grove Unified School District’s adoption of more than 200 propane-powered school buses. Photo courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council

Propane autogas is one of the fastest-growing markets in the industry, but retailers often have a hard time finding the right place to market this fuel source. Though many fleets nationwide have adopted propane autogas, there is still much room for growth.

Retailers trying to get into the autogas market may be met with resistance based on what a customer has heard about autogas. In an effort to help retailers better respond to naysayers, Roush CleanTech has provided a list of several autogas myths and how to dispel them:

Myth #1: Fleets aren’t fueling with propane autogas in my area.

Behind gasoline and diesel, propane autogas is the third most commonly used transportation fuel. There are thousands of fleets around the nation fueling with propane autogas. Popular public fleets include the school bus, utility and transit industries. Among commercial fleets, industries such as airport shuttles, food and beverage delivery, and taxi services choose propane autogas for its economic and environmental benefits.

In addition to cost savings and reduced emissions, fleet operators talk of propane autogas vehicles’ quieter operation, power and ease of fueling and maintenance.

Myth #2: There aren’t many propane autogas fueling stations. 

Propane autogas fuel infrastructure costs less than any other transportation energy source, including gasoline and diesel. This is a huge selling point for fleets.

Hundreds of fleets around the nation have installed a propane autogas station on-site at little to no cost with a propane fuel contract with one of your peers. Fleets appreciate that they can lock in an annual per-gallon fuel cost for propane autogas so that price and supply remain consistent, allowing for better budgeting.

Myth #3: Propane autogas vehicles are hard to service.

Many fleets have found maintenance to be much easier than expected. Jeff Schwepker, director of transportation for Missouri’s Fort Zumwalt School District, says, “There’s just not a lot of difference between maintaining these alternative fuel buses when compared to diesel buses.”

In most cases, if a maintenance garage is up to code for working on gasoline and diesel trucks, no shop modifications are required to service propane autogas vehicles.

There’s also less cost. Propane autogas engines require less oil by volume than diesel. Additionally, no extra filters or fluids are needed to meet regulatory emissions requirements, which further reduces fleet expenses.

Myth #4: Propane autogas would be a negligible part of my business. 

Although home heating may be the biggest part of your business, propane autogas can be a substantial part, as well. Its growth potential is huge. For example, there are 13,000 school buses operating on propane autogas. Each of those school buses consumes about 4,500 gallons of propane per year. Multiply that over the 13,000 buses, each with a 15-year life cycle, and that’s almost 900 million gallons of propane in just one industry currently fueling with autogas.

Propane autogas’ low nitrogen oxide qualities mean these alternative fuel vehicles may qualify for Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement funding. State beneficiaries are currently developing their state plans for how to use the $2.9 billion of funding. Fleets may soon have access to funding to replace aging diesel vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles such as propane autogas.

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