Alliance Autogas

By Stuart Weidie

Propane marketers around the country often cite the lack of an autogas service network as a reason to not deploy our energy source in their own fleets. At first glance, this is understandable. However, they are missing out on the numerous benefits of using autogas, including reduced maintenance costs (especially versus diesel) and a large reduction in fuel costs.

For new purchases, there is a swiftly growing network of propane vehicle “upfitters” who are trained and qualified to install autogas systems. When the marketer receives the new vehicle, it is already running on propane. When a propane company wants to convert an existing gasoline engine to run on autogas, these upfitters — along with more than 120 certified installers in the Alliance AutoGas network — are available to perform this task. ROUSH CleanTech also has a map of service and installation centers. But what about servicing the individual vehicle once it is deployed in the marketer’s fleet?

One of the most overlooked options is your existing local shop. The process starts with a simple question: “Where do I currently get my vehicles serviced and maintained?” Often, this is a viable solution. Have you ever talked to them about autogas? Not only is this a new revenue stream for your existing shop, but it is also an option to have autogas technicians in your area able to service other vehicles in the community, giving you a head start in selling autogas to fleets in the area. The propane company becomes the “anchor” customer for the shop, giving them a new stream of customers through autogas fleets.

Companies such as Alliance AutoGas offer twice-monthly training to shops and vehicle technicians that are open to everyone. Vehicle uptime is critical to any fleet but especially to the propane marketer during the busy fall and winter months. The minimal annual maintenance requirements (filter changes, diagnostics and tank inspection) can all be performed locally and can be scheduled during periods of less demand.

Educating a local shop on autogas systems not only enhances the relationship between the propane marketer and the entity keeping their vehicle on the road, but it also increases the credibility of the shop by increasing its service offerings.

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is also investing in the training of service technicians around the country. PERC is focused on working with local technical schools and community colleges to provide funds through their Propane Autogas Vehicle Inspection Grant Program.

Another issue propane marketers tend to cite with propane autogas is this: “My diesel vehicle has a much higher miles per gallon (MPG) performance than my gasoline or propane vehicle.” Cost per mile (CPM) is a more appropriate measurement of annual vehicle costs versus using MPG. When considering the cost of diesel maintenance — particularly any problems with the after-treatment system, the fuel cost and the scheduled maintenance — there is no contest between the two. Actual data from propane marketers, such as Green’s Blue Flame Gas in Texas, has shown that the CPM to run a propane vehicle is 65 cents per mile on autogas versus $1.01 for diesel when comparing a Ford F750 with a 3,100-gallon barrel to a diesel bobtail with the same size barrel.

The numbers are consistent with service vehicles ranging from an F250 to F650 when comparing CPM for autogas versus diesel service trucks. This results in an astounding 45% reduction in fuel costs, without including the excise fuel tax credit. When including that fuel tax credit into the analysis, the numbers improve dramatically.

In years past, many marketers have expressed doubt about the viability of the propane autogas market. Comments have focused on whether this will hurt the core residential business and other commercial or industrial applications that our industry serves. The fact is, the United States is exporting over 25 billion gallons of propane annually, and the number is growing. There is an excess of propane that is available to use in our industry vehicles and commercial fleets here in the U.S., as opposed to being exported to other countries.

Together, we can grow the adoption of autogas in our propane industry fleets. Unlike 15 or 25 years ago, there are viable, quality technology options to operate a vehicle on autogas. If we start small and get our local shops involved, the opportunities are limitless. 

Stuart Weidie is the president of Alliance AutoGas, the complete solution for converting fleets to propane autogas. He has also served as chairman of PERC and the National Propane Gas Association. He was inducted into the LP Gas Hall of Fame in 2018.

In today’s cost-conscious world, finding ways to save money without sacrificing efficiency is of great importance. Autogas, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), emerges as a standout solution offering substantial cost savings for both individuals and businesses. With its competitive pricing, enhanced fuel efficiency, and lower maintenance costs, autogas presents a compelling case for those looking to save without compromising on performance.

The Cost Advantage

The primary allure of autogas lies in its significant cost savings compared to conventional gasoline and diesel fuels. Offering a lower price per gallon, autogas immediately translates into savings at the pump for consumers. These savings, coupled with the fuel’s improved efficiency, ensures that drivers can travel farther for less, making every trip more economical.

Enhanced Fuel Efficiency

Autogas vehicles often demonstrate superior fuel efficiency compared to their gasoline counterparts. This means that not only does autogas cost less per gallon, but it also allows drivers to cover more distance on the same amount of fuel. The result? Substantial savings over time, as fuel expenses are minimized without compromising on performance or driving experience.

Reduced Maintenance Costs

In addition to its economical fuel consumption, autogas can also contribute to lower maintenance costs for vehicles. The cleaner-burning nature of autogas leads to reduced engine wear, resulting in extended engine life and fewer trips to the mechanic. By choosing autogas, drivers can not only save on fuel but also enjoy decreased maintenance expenses.

Upfront Investment Versus Long-Term Returns

While there is an initial cost for converting a vehicle to run on autogas and establishing refueling infrastructure, it’s important to consider the long-term returns on this investment. Despite the upfront costs, the substantial savings achieved through lower fuel expenses and reduced maintenance over the vehicle’s lifespan make autogas a financially savvy choice.

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