According to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), the biggest challenge to widespread propane usage in fleets has been a limited number of propane-autogas-fueled vehicles to choose from. However, PERC noted that in recent years, the propane industry has invested several million dollars in the development of new fleet vehicles that run on autogas. Below are PERC’s highlights of the latest developments in available propane-powered vehicles – and what’s in the store for the future:
■ 2012 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana 4500-series cutaway vans with dedicated propane autogas systems, which are built, sold, serviced and warrantied by General Motors.
■ ROUSH CleanTech, developer of the propane conversion system for the Ford F-450 and F-550 chassis cabs is developing propane autogas versions of heavier trucks, such as the F-650, with funding from PERC.
■ 2012 F-250 and F-350 pickups and E-Series vans and cutaways, equipped to run on propane autogas, are available for purchase through certain Ford Dealers.
■ A project funded in part by PERC and led by Freightliner Custom Chassis is expected to bring to market, as early as 2012, a heavy-duty propane autogas chassis suitable for a range of applications (including the Type C bus from Thomas Built, recreational vehicles and fire engines, among others).
My advice to fleet managers before making the switch to propane autogas is to research certified autogas vehicle availability; there is a large number of OEM-, EPA-, and CARB-certified dedicated vehicle options, as well as EPA-certified bi-fuel conversion options. Also, consider your ability to refuel and the cost of refueling. Propane autogas refueling can be easily added to already existing infrastructure and can be a nearly seamless transition for drivers. (View my recent post concerning refueling infrastructure to learn more.) But the bottom line is, the cost of autogas is consistently cheaper than gasoline and diesel, which in turn keeps money in your pocket!