Fluids, Maintenance, and Refueling

Clean fuels help utility companies achieve emissions benchmarks required by federal, state and local government agencies, while also helping to brand their company as a steward of the local environment. Today, more light- and medium-duty commercial vehicles in utility vehicle fleets are transitioning to alternative fuels, and many of those fleets are choosing propane autogas.

Nov 1st, 2018
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3 Reasons to Switch Your Fleet to Propane Autogas

By Michael Taylor

Clean fuels help utility companies achieve emissions benchmarks required by federal, state and local government agencies while also helping to brand their company as a steward of the local environment. Today, more light- and medium-duty commercial vehicles in utility vehicle fleets are transitioning to alternative fuels, and many of those fleets are choosing propane autogas.

Propane autogas is widely regarded as a proven solution for fleets seeking to reduce emissions and the new ultra-low, medium-duty propane autogas engine technology dramatically reduces harmful emissions like nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and greenhouse gases.

Fortunately, the adoption of an alternative fuel doesn’t require sacrificing the fleet’s operating budget or the convenience fleet managers are accustomed to with traditional fuels. In fact, propane autogas provides the lowest total cost of ownership of any vehicle fuel, including gasoline and diesel.

Between fuel costs, maintenance requirements, and refueling infrastructure, fleets that are performing their due diligence before transitioning to alternative fuels will discover three of many reasons propane autogas is most likely the right fuel for them.

Propane autogas is widely regarded as a proven solution for fleets seeking to reduce emissions.

Fuel, Fluids and Filter Costs

On average, propane autogas costs as much as 50 percent less per gallon than gasoline or diesel, placing less stress on a commercial fleet’s annual fuel budget and cost objectives. Propane autogas is consistently less expensive than other fuels because the cost of propane falls between the price of oil and natural gas — the fuel’s two sources.

Unlike electric vehicles (EVs), propane autogas fleets are protected from the wide variation in unexpected expenses like kilowatt-hour costs caused by demand pricing, vampire power costs and on-peak rates applied in parts of the United States. These costs will sharply increase utility bills if electric vehicles are not charged during off-peak hours.

Another major advantage in using propane autogas is what the fuel doesn’t need added: fluids and filters. Any fleet owner who has worked with diesel engines knows these components are a necessity that can be costly to ensure the vehicle operates properly. The engine systems for propane autogas are less complex and burn clean, eliminating the need for additional parts and fluids that can contribute to unexpected repairs and downtime.

Maintenance and Garaging

It’s highly likely that fleets adding propane autogas vehicles won’t be required to make costly modifications or upgrades to maintenance or garaging facilities, as is the case with other alternative fuels like compressed natural gas (CNG) and EVs. In fact, if buildings are code-compliant for diesel and gasoline, there are often no infrastructure changes required for propane. Segregation of major and minor repairs is not required either. Facility managers should always check with their local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for specific garaging information.

Flexible Refueling Options

Propane autogas refueling infrastructure is affordable, scalable and is another reason propane autogas vehicles provide the lowest total cost of ownership of any fuel. Fleet managers can choose from multiple propane autogas refueling solutions that allow them to create a custom-designed program that specifically fits their needs:

• On-site refueling solutions are recommended for fleets both small and large that require a centralized refueling station. Site preparation is minimal and requires a level area for vehicle refueling, crash protection and an electrical supply for the pump and dispensers. Fleets have the option to lease or own fuel tanks and dispensers. These options can easily expand with the growth of a fleet.

• Public or private refueling stations are another solution for propane autogas fleets with limited space. With a 24/7 card lock system, fleets can maintain records for each vehicle.

• A fuel storage tank, pump and dispenser mounted on a trailer provides a convenient temporary refueling solution for fleets in the process of installing permanent infrastructure or crews working on a long-term job site.

• Mobile refueling is a viable solution for fleets that do not have plans to install infrastructure. In this scenario, the fleet’s propane supplier works with the customer to create a customized plan for refueling the fleet vehicles on-site with a bobtail delivery truck.

With lower fuel costs, less maintenance overhead, and a tailored refueling strategy, propane autogas has provided many fleets a complete return on their investment in as little as two years or less. These three benefits are a major reason so many fleets are converting vehicles to propane autogas. To learn more about the benefits of using propane autogas vehicles, visit propane.com/on-road-fleets. UP

The Author: Michael Taylor is the director of autogas business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached via email at michael.taylor@propane.com.

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