Propane vehicles make a difference on bottom line, environment
By Todd Mouw
Controlling transportation fuel costs while maintaining high performance and reducing emissions is key for any government agencydepartment. By adopting propane autogas vehicles, you can significantly lower your operating costs and environmental impact.
When weighing the decision to adopt propane autogas, cost will be a major factor. Changing to this fuel for your fleet vehicles, like transit shuttles or dump trucks, will save money over the lifetime of the vehicle.
Historically, propane autogas costs about 40 percent less than gasoline and 50 percent less than diesel per gallon, and reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-burning properties. Operating on propane autogas instead of diesel removes the complexity and cost of after-treatment measures, which can accelerate return on investment and cut operating costs.
The Propane Education & Research Council’s savings calculator includes a lifetime ownership cost summary comparing vehicle cost savings and savings per mile. Also, consider models that can help tap into funding. To learn potential savings, enter specific transportation data at www.propane.com/on-road-fleets/calculator/.
Some agencies could also have access to the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trustfunding to replace aging diesel vehicles with models fueled by propane autogas. Other sources of funding are available, too. Visit the Energy Department’s Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center at www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/ to find current opportunities.
Safe and reliable
Know that when choosing propane autogas, it is as safe to use as conventional fuels. It’s a nontoxic, non-carcinogenic and non-corrosive fuel that theclassifies as a non-contaminant.
A vehicle fueled by propane autogas comes equipped with a dedicated liquid propane autogas fuel system that consists of the fuel rail assembly, fuel line assembly, fuel tank assembly and the powertrain control system. In most cases, if a maintenance garage is up to code for working on gasoline and diesel trucks, little to no shop modifications are required to service them.
With modern propane autogas systems, the propane remains in a liquid state until it gets to the cylinder. This has removed the cold-start issues associated with vapor technology propane systems of the past. Today’s dedicated propane autogas fuel systems start immediately in weather as cold as negative -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Another plus, propane autogas engines are noticeably quieter, reducing noise levels by about half compared to a diesel engine
And, propane autogas vehicle fuel tanks are 20 times more puncture-resistant than gasoline or diesel tanks and can withstand four times the pressure.
Propane autogas is a clean-burning, low-carbon fuel that will help you decrease your agency’s carbon footprint.
According to a University of California Riverside study, diesel-fueled medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are the primary source of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in almost every single metropolitan region in the United States. Propane autogas is naturally much lower in NOx than diesel and gasoline.
Vehicles equipped with propane autogas fuel systems emit 80 percent fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons and virtually eliminate particulate matter when compared to conventional diesel-powered vehicles.
When compared with gasoline, vehicles fueled by propane autogas produce up to 25 percent fewer greenhouse gases, 20 percent less nitrogen oxide, up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide, and 40 percent fewer smog-producing hydrocarbons while fueling.
With propane autogas delivery trucks, drivers aren’t exposed to the harmful particulate matter in diesel exhaust, which is known to aggravate asthma and is identified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Government agencies can benefit from the affordability, safety and clean operation of propane autogas vehicles. Adopting this technology will make a positive impact on your fleet and community.
Todd Mouw is president of ROUSH CleanTech, an industry leader of alternative fuel vehicle technology. Mouw has more than two decades of experience in the automotive and high-tech industries. As former president of the NTEA Green Truck Association, Mouw helped set standards in the green trucking industry. To learn more, visit ROUSHcleantech.com.