Motor fuel remains a distant second

September 1, 2004 By    

Although propane remains the second most common automotive fuel in the nation, the cost of using it likely will keep it a distant second.

 Charles Pekow
Charles Pekow

According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, the comparable price of gasoline and propane is lost to associated costs that hinder increased use of LPG by motorists.

“Without considerable advances in alternative fuel and vehicle technology, or significant petroleum price increases, it is unlikely that any fuel or fuels will replace petroleum-based fuels in the near future,” concludes the report, titled Alternative Transportation Fuels & Vehicles: Energy, Environment & Development Issues.

Legislation stalled in Congress might help spur LPG use, though, the report notes.

The 281,000 propane vehicles in use in 2002 more than doubled the number of vehicles powered by any other single source of alternative motor fuel, and represents more than all other alternative fuels combined.

But the $1,000-$2,000 additional up-front cost of a vehicle, maintenance costs and possible lower resale value are problems the report says are hindering its growth. As a result, LPG comprises just two-tenths of a percent of new vehicle sales. In fact, outside of custom vehicles, only the Ford F250 pickup and the GM Express Savanna van run on propane.

Briefly Speaking
Briefly Speaking

Also, costs of propane vary more than gasoline, as supply depends on the heating market. Only 2.7 percent of service stations offer it.

CRS concludes that because of its wide delivery system for other uses, more gas stations could easily offer propane should motorists demand it.

CRS warns legislators that might want to enact tax provisions to spur propane use “because LPG is often derived from petroleum refining, it may do little to diminish petroleum dependence,” it notes.

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