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Propane Education & Research Council
Propane Autogas Is Key Topic at International Summit
Clean energy option reduces emissions and displaces gasoline
WASHINGTON (March 1, 2011) — The use of propane autogas in commercial vehicles is growing in the United States because of a favorable combination of expanding domestic propane production, a steady stream of new vehicle offerings, favorable government policies, and propane’s affordable refueling infrastructure, according to propane business leaders from more than 20 countries who gathered last month at a summit in Washington.
"As fleet managers balance corporate environmental initiatives with bottom-line economic pressures, propane autogas is gaining market share because it is clean, efficient, reliable, safe, and affordable," said Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which co-hosted the summit along with the Paris-based World LP Gas Association.
Propane autogas is the most widely used alternative to gasoline and diesel throughout the world, but the industry needs to do more in the United States to build awareness of its benefits, according to Warren Brown, automotive columnist for the Washington Post and moderator of the summit's propane autogas discussion. Brown said a typical reaction to using propane in vehicles is "are you telling me that I can run a truck with the same gas I use to cook hamburgers and hot dogs?"
The answer is yes.
In fact, more than 15 million vehicles worldwide run on propane autogas. "Here in the United States about 270,000 dedicated propane autogas vehicles are on the road," said Brian Feehan, PERC vice president for engine fuels.
The industry is focused on commercial fleets as the key to propane autogas success. "We have a powerful story to tell: propane autogas offers significantly lower costs of ownership, infrastructure costs that are a fraction of that of other alternatives, and a solid return on investment even before tax incentives," said George Koloroutis, president of Ferrell North America and senior vice president of Ferrellgas, a major U.S. propane supplier.
Additional propane autogas vehicles are coming, according to spokesmen for CleanFuel USA and Roush CleanTech, the nation's leading suppliers of new propane autogas vehicles. Tucker Perkins, president of CleanFuel USA, which offers a series of GM-based vehicles, said that the current lineup of GM vehicles is being expanded with two major projects, a 6-liter engine coming out this year and an 8-liter engine slated to hit the market in 2012. Both engines are designed to serve multiple commercial truck and bus fleets, Perkins said.
“Propane autogas is the ‘right here, right now’ fuel for fleets that are looking for a solid business case to go green,” said Joe Thompson, president of Roush CleanTech, the alternative fuel business started by NASCAR team owner Jack Roush. Specializing in Ford trucks and vans, Roush CleanTech offers fully warranted vehicles tailored to meet the needs of commercial fleets. “A growing number of Fortune 500 businesses have added propane autogas vehicles to their fleets in recent years, and interest is growing,” Thompson said.
In addition to buying new vehicles, fleet owners also have the option to convert existing gasoline vehicles to propane autogas, said Stuart Weidie, president of Blossman Gas and founder of Alliance AutoGas, a nationwide network of companies that provides vehicle conversions, onsite fueling infrastructure, and ongoing technical support and training. Alliance AutoGas offers propane autogas fuel systems for taxicabs, patrol cars, delivery vans, shuttles, buses, and light and medium duty trucks.
Propane autogas engines cut greenhouse gas emissions between 15 and 25 percent compared with gasoline and significantly cut other air pollutants. More than 90 percent of the propane used in the United States is produced domestically, with domestic supplies projected to increase along with natural gas production from America’s vast shale formations.