How to Integrate Propane Into Your Fleet Operation

Propane autogas truck on highway

Kansas City Regional Clean Cities and St. Louis Regional Clean Cities recently teamed up with the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) to provide an exciting virtual event for Missouri fleet vehicle managers—Autogas Answers. If you missed it, don’t worry. We’ll cover some of the key takeaways for you here.

Steve Whaley, PERC Director of Autogas Business Development, kicked off the event by explaining what makes an alternative energy adoption successful and how propane autogas fits into that conversation. To be successful, alternative fuels must reduce emissions over the lifecycle of the energy used in the vehicle without increasing cost or losing efficiency. Propane autogas is the most cost-effective energy source to reduce NOx emissions. Additionally, a successful alternative fuel must reduce total cost of ownership or provide a return on investment long before the end of the vehicle lifecycle. Propane autogas provides the lowest total cost of ownership of any fuel.

Whaley shared a third factor that makes an alternative energy adoption successful— the alternative fuel vehicle performs as well or better than the original fuel, without compromising range. Propane autogas offers comparable and in many cases improved performance over traditional fuels. The last piece of the puzzle for a successful alternative fuel adoption is that there must be a high-volume supply of that alternative energy domestically sourced. In 2019, the United States produced 28 billion gallons of propane. Propane is American-made and we have a lot of it. In 2019, 9 billion gallons of propane were used domestically and 19 billion gallons were exported.

Propane Autogas is a Great Fit for School Buses

Because of the benefits of propane autogas, it is a great fuel option for school buses. Propane autogas has been widely adopted by school districts and contractors across the nation to take advantage of these benefits. In addition to cost savings and reduced emissions, utilizing propane autogas for school buses has many secondary advantages as well. For example, Whaley shared an example of a school district that had adopted propane buses and was able to pay their drivers more with their fuel savings to combat a widespread shortage of drivers they were facing. In addition to producing 96% less NOx than the cleanest diesel fuel, propane autogas engines also run much quieter, providing safety benefits for drivers and students.

Emerging Markets Where Propane Autogas Delivers Many Benefits

Any vehicle that has an engine and a spark can use propane autogas as a fuel. However, Class 3 to Class 7 medium-duty trucks that have a high level of fuel consumption and operate regional routes have a huge potential to take advantage of the benefits of propane autogas. Regional routes are a great fit for on-site propane autogas refueling infrastructure. Three up-and-coming vehicle applications, similar to school buses, where propane autogas offers opportunities to really shine include paratransit vehicles, food and beverage delivery trucks and parcel and package delivery trucks.

There are approximately 25,000 paratransit vehicles nationwide that use 600 gallons of fuel per month. The ADA requires every county in the U.S. to provide paratransit service. The fuel consumption level and the regional nature of routes make propane autogas an ideal clean fuel solution for paratransit vehicles.

Major companies have already validated propane autogas as a viable fuel option in the food and beverage delivery industry. ReadyRefresh by Nestle Waters and Schwan’s Home Delivery utilize propane in their fleet vehicles to save on fuel costs and total cost of ownership and improve their corporate image by using a clean fuel alternative.

Another industry that holds many opportunities for propane autogas to deliver extensive benefits is the parcel and package delivery industry. USPS has 92,000 routes for moving mail using an average of 1,000 gallons per month in fuel. Interestingly, 70,000 routes are performed by independent contractors. There are approximately 10,000 class 6–7 straight box trucks operated by USPS contractors. Contractors bidding on USPS routes score higher in consideration with alternative fuel vehicles, giving propane autogas even more appeal.

Propane autogas is a viable and efficient fuel for many industries, including yours. Read more about Propane Fueling Infrastructure Information if you are interested in learning more about successfully adopting propane autogas for your fleet.