Propane autogas, the term used when propane is used as a motor fuel, is a clean alternative to gasoline or diesel fuel and more reliable than electric. Autogas offers many advantages for vehicles ranging from light- to medium-duty fleets, as well as school and transit buses. Propane is a clean, North American-sourced energy that has positive effects on the environment.
Propane used to displace gas or diesel in the transportation sector, as well as coal-generated electricity in homes and businesses, plays an important role in decarbonizing our world. Using the right mix of affordable, reliable, low-emission fuels is crucial to create a lower-carbon future. But environmental benefits are only a fraction of the value that propane brings to the transportation sector.
The benefits are clear
Propane does not contaminate soil, air and water. The combustion of autogas is more complete and efficient than gasoline or diesel, resulting in significantly fewer carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. Propane burns so cleanly that it can be used to power indoor applications like forklifts, floor buffers and other equipment.
Autogas is a prominent fuel source for the National Parks Service, which partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office and Clean Cities coalition in 2010. The use of propane supports efforts to reduce vehicle congestion, air pollution, and resource degradation, and to preserve the long-term quality of the parks. As part of the coalition, Midwest parks like Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (Missouri), Pea Ridge (Arkansas), and Mammoth Cave (Kentucky) have turned to autogas technologies as a solution. Some National Parks, including Glacier (Montana) and Acadia (Maine), have been using propane to fuel their tour buses for nearly 20 years.
When comparing air pollution emissions in school buses, propane buses produce significantly less than those from diesel buses. According to a study done by West Virginia University, while driving on residential pick-up and drop-off routes, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) were 34 times lower for autogas than for diesel buses. Overall, NOx was reduced by 96% and carbon dioxide fell by 13%.
Outside of the environmental advantages, propane autogas is the world’s leading alternative fuel source because of its reliability. While diesel engines may spend valuable time in the shop for repairs on complex emissions systems and while electric vehicles need hours to recharge, propane-powered vehicles stay on the road. On a full battery charge, an electric bus can only travel up to 120 miles, compared to propane autogas vehicles that can travel more than 400 miles on a single tank. Additionally, propane vehicles start year-round, even during the harshest months of winter.
Propane is a much denser fuel than gasoline or diesel, meaning you need far less of it, which can save businesses and school systems money. On average, propane autogas costs between 30% and 50% less per gallon than gasoline and diesel. The price of propane traditionally falls between the prices of natural gas and oil, which greatly limits market price fluctuations. In terms of refueling, there are several convenient infrastructure options to choose from, depending on your fleet’s size. Quick-Connect nozzles make the process easy. Drivers can simply click in the nozzle, refuel, and go. Propane retailers located throughout the U.S. can help fleets get set up with propane autogas.
Go green and get green
In Missouri, there are a variety of funding opportunities to assist with the purchase of a propane fleet. The state has received $42 million from the Volkswagen emissions settlement to fund transportation projects that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, and propane autogas transit buses offer access to these funds. The Missouri Propane Education & Research Council offers a funding program that includes your choice of either a $2,000 rebate (up to 10 qualifying school buses or transit vehicles per customer) or a 0% financing incentive when lease-purchasing propane vehicles through our vendor partner, Central Bank..
The U.S. Department of Energy designates autogas as a clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act and offers various federal incentive programs and tax credits to encourage the use of propane as a fuel source for vehicles. Funds are currently available to those who purchase vehicles that are Altoona-tested, which is the Federal Transit Administration’s New Model Bus Testing Program. Transit fleet operators can access federal assistance that covers 85% of the entire alternative fuel vehicle cost with a 15% local match. The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act can also provide funds for those who use alternatives to diesel.
Additionally, across the state propane retailers and wholesale suppliers offer various financial incentives and support. Contact us to learn more about how propane autogas can be incorporated into your transit agency’s fleet operations to save you money and to reduce emissions.