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Propane Autogas Leads the Way, Says PERC

Propane autogas vehicles – and FCCC’s MT-45 chassis – shown by PERC at Booth 911.

Propane autogas vehicles – and FCCC’s MT-45 chassis – shown by PERC at Booth 911.

This is the second year PERC is a presenting sponsor at ACT Expo. What can attendees look forward to at this year’s show?

At ACT Expo 2014, the fleet professionals leading the transportation transformation in this country will have the opportunity to visit with a record number of propane autogas OEMs, conversion partners, infrastructure providers and propane retailers to learn more about technology options and solutions available.

Why should fleet managers consider propane autogas and how does propane differ from other alternative fuels?

Where propane autogas really differs from other alternative fuels is its low total cost of ownership.

Fueling infrastructure for propane autogas is the most affordable of all alternative fuels and is even less expensive than gasoline or diesel. The cost of maintaining propane autogas vehicles is also significantly less and, unlike other gaseous fuels, most service and repair facilities require no additional costs or setup for propane autogas.

As a technology incubator, PERC is especially excited about the expanding number of OEM vehicle offerings in recent years, and that momentum continues this year.

UPS recently adopted 1,000 propane autogas vehicles. What makes propane autogas an attractive fuel for larger fleets like UPS and smaller businesses?

Cost savings, performance, and just how easy it is to make the switch.

Propane autogas can reduce fuel costs when compared with gasoline and diesel – before federal and state incentives – and fuel contracts through a propane retailer can help fleets lock in the best price based on their needs and volume. Additionally, fleets report much lower maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle.

Propane autogas offers the same torque and horsepower as gasoline and diesel, and fleets can find high-performing liquid injection engines and vehicles from nearly every major manufacturer. Propane autogas also runs cleaner and quieter, which provides an additional level of safety, especially for those industries that transport people.

On top of that, propane autogas requires minimal training, and the fueling experience is very similar to that of gasoline and diesel. Fleets can find more propane autogas fueling stations coast-to-coast than any other alternative fuel, so accessing the fuel is very convenient.

This past winter, parts of the country experienced propane supply and price issues. Were fleet customers affected?

To be clear, the issue was never supply. The U.S. produces far more propane than we consume. We experienced a prolonged surge in demand for residential space heating brought on by the Polar Vortex and the challenge of transporting fuel to millions of rural homes. The overwhelming majority of fleets were not affected by either supply or price concerns. Most fleets enter into fuel contracts that lock in prices and insulate them from unpredictable market factors like what we experienced last winter.

One thing we did learn from the extreme cold is how well today’s propane vehicles operated without the cold-start problems that plague diesel and some other fuels.

PERC has research projects on a number of new engines. Where do you see the technology going?

I’m very excited about what our research is showing for propane use in direct injection engines. The fact that propane is a liquid under modest pressure makes it tailor-made for these highly efficient, powerful engines. I can envision direct injection propane autogas in both dedicated and bi-fuel applications suitable for sedans, taxis, and patrol cars. Beyond that, we’re looking at larger engines for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle applications.

<h2>Lots and Lots of Propane Autogas</h2>

The Propane Education & Research Council is celebrating a record number of propane autogas exhibitors, including propane autogas retailers and no fewer than ten original equipment manufacturers in Long Beach this week.

“At this year’s ACT Expo, fleet managers have an unprecedented opportunity to explore the growing array of propane autogas vehicle and engine options,” says PERC president and CEO Roy Willis.

Before you make the rounds, stop by PERC’s Booth 911 and pick up a Propane Autogas Rewards Tour card. You’ll be able to trade it for a Starbucks gift card after visiting

  • Alliance AutoGas (Booth 923).
  • CleanFuel USA (Booth 932).
  • Freightliner Custom Chassis (Booth 1405).
  • Icom (Booth 823).
  • Isuzu (Booth 845).
  • New Eagle (Booth 960).
  • Power Solutions International (Booth 1120).
  • Powertrain Integration (Booth 928).
  • Roush CleanTech (Booth 929).

PERC itself is showing a Roush CleanTech E-450 transit shuttle bus and the newly released MT-45 strip chassis from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.

Also on show is flat tank fuel storage technology from Propane Performance Industries, an Exmark Lazer Z S-Series propane-powered lawn mower with a Kohler EFI powerplant engine, and a Superior Energy Systems autogas dispenser.

PERC hosted the PERC Lead the Way with Propane Autogas Summit here Monday.

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