Michael Taylor is the director of autogas business development for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), a check-off program established, operated and funded by the propane industry. PERC leads safety and training efforts among propane retailers and consumers and drives technology development to expand adoption of propane as a clean, domestic and affordable energy source. Contact Taylor at email@example.com. Visit propanecouncil.org.
As construction professionals continue to look for ways to improve their bottom line, often by looking for inefficiencies in labor and material costs, more companies are turning to a familiar jobsite fuel source to power their vehicle fleets—propane autogas.
An increasing number of light- and medium-duty work truck makes and models can be converted to run on this low-emissions, clean fuel. Take a look at the following four ways you can benefit from operating your vehicle fleet with propane autogas.
1. Propane Autogas Fleets Save Money
Propane autogas offers the lowest total ownership cost of any fuel, with credit due largely in part to the three Fs—fuel, fluids and filters.
Historically, propane autogas has been consistently less expensive than both gasoline and diesel. Fleets have even reported a 30- to 50-percent savings per gallon with the fuel.
Propane autogas engines and emissions systems are also less complex than new diesel engines due to the ability to burn cleaner and produce fewer emissions. Eliminating the fluids required to make diesel systems run smoothly can directly impact operations, maintenance and repair costs. Propane autogas also performs well in colder climates without the need for fuel conditioners to keep fuel lines from freezing and clogging.
Diesel engines require an increasing number of additional components to comply with emissions regulations and fuel efficiency standards. Failing to properly clean and maintain diesel particulate filters guarantees clogging, derates the engine revolutions per minute (rpm) and often renders a vehicle inoperable, adding unnecessary downtime. In comparison, propane autogas engines ensure Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance without requiring additional emissions components.
After totaling all savings, some propane autogas fleets have reported recouping their initial investment in as quickly as 2 to 3 years—a fraction of the life span of a work truck.
2. Propane Autogas Offers Tailored Refueling Strategies
Propane autogas offers fleets a plethora of refueling options. So, companies that have vehicles return to base each night or send trucks home with foremen after the workday, can have a refueling strategy that maximizes productivity.
For fleets that prefer to install an on-site refueling location, propane autogas provides the most affordable infrastructure of any fuel. Fleets oftentimes lease a propane tank, pump, motor and dispenser from a propane retailer to keep costs low so that the company only pays for site preparation requirements, including electrical installation and crash protection for the fuel tank. This option can support up to 50 vehicles with a standard private station, or more than 50 vehicles with an advanced private station, which includes larger gallon tanks, a canopy and multiple fuel dispensers.
For fleets with limited space, where a propane tank installation may not be an option, public refueling stations are an alternative. There are more than 3,000 stations across the country that work with the protection of a 24/7 card lock system. This allows fleets to identify and maintain records of vehicles by vehicle identification number (VIN), driver, fuel type and gallons dispensed, as well as the date and time of the transaction, for easier cost tracking and record keeping. This is a great option for construction crews that take vehicles home at the end of the day, rather than returning to a company’s home base.
Fleets can also work with a propane retailer to arrange mobile refueling. No infrastructure is involved, and a retailer will refuel fleet vehicles one by one on-site. Most propane retailers are willing to place a temporary refueling setup on-site, which generally includes a dispenser and fuel tank mounted on a trailer.
3. Propane Autogas Is a Familiar Fuel
It is likely that construction crews already have experience refueling propane equipment used on jobsites for heat and power and in equipment, such as concrete trowels and forklifts. Even the refueling experience will be familiar to drivers who have a gasoline or diesel truck. Quick-connect nozzles are lightweight and capable of one-handed operation while providing a secure lock during refueling, rendering concerns about evaporative emissions or fuel spills virtually eliminated.
New liquid propane fuel injection engines are also similar in appearance to gasoline engines and require similar equipment for maintenance, diagnosis and repair, if those are done on-site. If not, it may be possible to work with a propane retailer and local maintenance shop to get technicians trained to properly repair and maintain vehicles.
4. Propane Autogas Is “Green”
Fleets can take advantage of propane autogas’s low emissions in marketing and when applying for bids to reach municipalities or corporations that aim for “green” thresholds or lower carbon footprints. Positioning your company on the “green” or “clean” market can boost corporate image and even help in employee retention and recruitment.
With propane autogas, construction professionals can break away from the competition and avoid unnecessary expenses and downtime. To learn more about propane autogas and access resources including case studies, safety and training advice and a return on investment (ROI) calculator, visit propane.com/on-road-fleets.