It can feel like each day brings a new technology to the table for reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency for vehicles serving every industry. With all of the options available, how can you know what is actually going to be the best fuel for an individual fleet?
When considering an alternative fuel, PERC recommends taking the following three steps, which can help you identify any possible challenges in switching fuels, as well as how alternative fuels can provide the best solution to meet your fleet’s expectations.
1. Learn from peers in similar fleet operations.
Thousands of fleets already use some sort of alternative fuel to meet local-, state-, or even self-imposed goals for reducing vehicle emissions — yours may even be one of them. But of all alterntative fuels, propane autogas has one of the longest success records, with fleets having used the fuel for as long as four decades in a wide range of industries, including goods delivery and school transportation.
You may already know of fleets using propane autogas, but if you don’t, PERC has a free and robust online library of video testimonials featuring light-duty vehicle fleets, medium-duty vehicle fleets, and school bus fleets seeing success with propane autogas. In fact, you may likely see a fleet similar to your own already available in the video series.
2. Do the math on total cost of ownership.
One of the primary reasons that many companies are considering alternative fuel vehicles is to leave behind the increasing costs associated with traditional fuels. Although the initial vehicle cost may be less, fuel and maintenance costs can quickly add up in gasoline and diesel vehicles. For example, knowing how much fuel your fleet uses in a given period of time — and how much it costs — can give you a head start when it comes to switching to an alternative fuel.
Fuel costs can create headaches for budgeting even when gasoline and diesel prices are low. But they can cause another level of disruption when prices reach $3 per gallon or more, like they currently are in many locations across the country. In fact, prices of gasoline and diesel are predicted to continue hovering at or above $3 per gallon through 2018 and 2019. However, the price of propane autogas is nearly always less than traditional fuels, and you may be able to lock in a fixed price for a set period of time by creating a fuel contract with a propane retailer.
Diesel vehicles can cause further stress for fleets with the additional costs for emissions-reducing fluids and filters. If regular maintenance isn’t done to keep filters unclogged, it can lead to unexpected downtime for repairs, or even engine damage if left long enough. In comparison, propane autogas burns clean and meets EPA and CARB regulations without extra parts to reduce emissions.
If you’re curious to see the savings over the lifetime of a vehicle by switching to propane autogas, PERC has an online cost calculator available that can show how even one propane autogas vehicle can impact your business’s bottom line. If you’re considering propane, a discussion with a local retailer can also help you with local fuel price comparisons, and even give you insight into incentives and opportunities that can further reduce costs.
3. Research refueling strategies.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding a refueling solution for your fleet and every alternative fuel has varying options and requirements that need to be considered. It’s important to research the costs and installation requirements that may come along with refueling with a particular alternative fuel before making the transition.
Propane autogas offers fleets a variety of refueling options to meet your fleet’s specific refueling needs. Depending on routes and mileage, you may discover it works best to use a central refueling station at your base of operations because vehicles are returned to the site at the end of each day. Or, a public refueling network may be a better fit if your fleet covers a wider region. If you have a large fleet with lengthy routes, you may even look into working directly with a fuel retailer to create a private refueling network.
If you’re considering public refueling options, you can research the locations of existing alternative refueling stations, including public propane autogas stations, by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center fueling station locator.
Regardless of the refueling needs and size of the fleet, propane autogas boasts the lowest infrastructure costs of any fuel. A local retailer is often even able to bear the cost of infrastructure in exchange for guaranteed fuel use. By starting a discussion with your local retailer, you can find out what’s available in your area.
Following these three steps can help you get on the right path to finding an alternative fuel that fits your fleet’s needs. If you’re interested in learning more about propane autogas, visit propane.com/on-road-fleets.