Using Propane Autogas as a Fuel Source for Fleet Vehicles

Propane autogas truck on highway

Tired of runaway fuel prices? Tired of watching profits disappear when replacing Diesel Particulate Filters? Propane can eliminate these headaches with a cleaner, more affordable fuel.

Cost of Propane Autogas vs. Diesel or Gas

Historically, propane costs less per gallon than either diesel fuel or gasoline. Find out how much less by checking the current average price for propane. Reduced maintenance costs and more vehicle up time are additional benefits that lead to increased savings from using propane autogas.

Because they run cleaner, propane engines require less oil than diesel engines and propane engines do not require diesel emissions fluid (DEF). Diesel filters are also more expensive than propane filters and require more frequent replacement. The largest and most expensive filter to maintain, the diesel particulate filter (DPF), requires periodic cleanings for the vehicle to operate properly. Clogged diesel particulate filters will reduce engine RPMs and could render a diesel vehicle inoperable.

A Case for Propane Autogas

A message for fleet managers currently evaluating their fuel choices – Kansas City Regional Clean Cities and St. Louis Regional Clean Cities recently teamed up with the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) to provide a virtual presentation 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 the total cost of ownership or provide a return on investment long before the end of the vehicle lifecycle. Propane autogas does both.

Whaley shared a third factor that makes alternative energy adoption successful— the alternative fuel vehicle must perform 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 that is domestically sourced. In 2019, the United States produced 28 billion gallons of propane, nine billion gallons of propane were consumed domestically while an additional 19 billion gallons were exported. Propane is American-made and abundant.

Further Benefits of Propane Autogas Over Diesel

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 converting. 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/package delivery trucks.

Since 1990 and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA requires that every county in the U.S. provide paratransit service. There are approximately 25,000 paratransit vehicles nationwide that use, on average, 600 gallons of fuel per month. The fuel consumption level and the regional nature of these routes make propane autogas an ideal clean fuel solution.

The food and beverage delivery industry has already seen two major companies validate the change. ReadyRefresh by Nestle Waters and Schwan’s Home Delivery utilize propane in their fleet vehicles to save on the total cost of ownership and improve their corporate image by using a clean fuel alternative.
Another industry that holds numerous opportunities for propane autogas is the parcel and package delivery industry. Currently, the USPS has 92,000 mail routes that use an average of 1,000 gallons of fuel per month. 70,000 of these 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 are given greater consideration when using alternative fuel vehicles which gives propane autogas even more appeal.

Propane autogas is a viable and efficient fuel for many industries, including yours. Read more about Propane Fueling Infrastructure if you are interested in learning about how to make the switch to autogas. Investing in infrastructure can also make your company eligible for federal incentives, grants and rebates.