PERC addresses DOC restriction, forklift market projects

April 13, 2015 By    

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) hosted its April meeting April 10 in Atlanta, before the start of the National Propane Gas Association’Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo.

PERC President and CEO Roy Willis addressed the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) restriction on PERC’s consumer outreach activities. He shared that DOC had completed its price analysis and that PERC was awaiting results from the federal government. PERC then announced April 11 that the restriction had been lifted, creating more opportunities for the council to promote propane to consumers throughout each of the industry’s market segments. Willis says the council will now decide over the next few months the type of public education campaign to pursue.

PERC also approved funding for two projects: $255,000 for its 2015 material handling market research and outreach program and $2 million for 3- to 6-ton forklift engine development.

“Propane forklifts now are utilizing a lot of automotive technology that’s been modified,” said Jeremy Wishart, PERC’s deputy director of business development. “These just aren’t industrial engines, though.”

PERC partnered with Power Solutions International Inc. on the engine development program. Wishart said the $2 million will be used to develop an advanced propane engine focused on mobile industrial applications, specifically as a replacement to the Tier 4 diesel and electrified products in the 3- to 6-ton forklift market. In addition, the new engine would replace an outgoing 3.0-liter engine with better emissions, performance and scalability.

The material-handling market is becoming more competitive, Wishart added. Propane is viewed as old technology in this space, and electricity is considered the greener technology.

PERC’s goals with the material handling market research and outreach program are to reposition propane within the market and prepare it for future competition in that space.

“As CNG makes its push into the market and as regulations develop, we’re going to see other alternative fuel sources,” Wishart said. “We need to be aware of that.”

The on-road vehicle market was also addressed at the meeting. Willis said a key to this market’s long-term sustainability is getting end users to discuss their propane autogas successes with peers.

“If we’re persistent, ultimately we’re going to cross that chasm and get to the point where end users are talking to their peers,” he said.

According to Willis, getting to the 13 to 15 percent market-share threshold within the on-road vehicle space qualifies a product as sustainable.

“While we have products that are close to crossing that chasm – for instance, we’re close to getting school buses to that mark – we have headwinds in most of our alternative fuel areas,” Willis said.

Read more about PERC activities in the May issue of LP Gas.

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