Use of fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel cargo vans and pickup trucks is one of the most immediate ways contractors can cut fuel costs and decrease pollutant emissions. Along with the purchasing of such vehicles, other light-duty vehicles can also be replaced or converted. Many fuels and vehicles are currently available:
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) - Light- and heavy-duty CNG conversions are available for trucks, vans and SUVs from Chrysler, Ford, Isuzu and General Motors. “Bi-fuel vehicles” offer the flexibility of switching to diesel or gasoline, and “dedicated vehicles” run only on CNG. Conversion kit prices range from $7,000 for light-duty trucks to $25,000 for heavy-duty trucks and can be purchased through and installed by dealerships and conversion companies. The conversions must be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency or the California Air Resources Board to ensure that engines meet safety and exhaust emission standards.
Original equipment manufacturers are also expanding their offerings of factory-direct natural gas vehicles. Fleet customers can purchase Chevrolet or GMC heavy-duty pickup trucks that start up on gasoline then switch to compressed natural gas. Compact cargo vans that use this technology, such as the Nissan NV200 or Ford Transit Connect, are also available.
Propane - Dedicated liquid propane autogas fuel systems are available for light- and medium-duty vans and trucks. Ford and Roush CleanTech offer a variety of propane vehicles, including the Roush Propane F-150, F-250 and F-350 pickup trucks and E-150, E-250 and E-350 cargo vans.
Hybrids and Electric Vehicles - Hybrid vehicles, such as pickup trucks and larger cargo vans, are widely available for light-duty applications. Light-duty plug-in electric vehicles are offered by multiple manufacturers, and a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is currently available for plug-in hybrid and all other electric vehicles.
Biofuels - Many manufacturers offer “flexible-fuel” (aka flex-fuel) vehicles, which run on gasoline, E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) or any combination of the two. E85 is widely available in some parts of the country, which allows for easy refueling in those areas. Trucks, cargo vans and other light-duty vehicles that can operate on flex-fuel are manufactured by GM, Ford, Chrysler and Nissan.