Six transit fleets received the 2016 Award for Top User of Propane Autogas

Six transit fleets received the 2016 award for Top User of Propane Autogas from the Propane Education and Research Council at BusCon Expo in Indianapolis on September 21st.

Recipients of the award are Alamance County Transportation Authority, in Burlington, North Carolina; the City of Austin, Texas; Fayetteville Area System of Transit, in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, in Detroit, Michigan; Sand Diego Metropolitan Transit System in California; and Van Go in Richmond, Virginia.

Thomas Built Buses Partners with YouTube Channel on School Bus Safety

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Just in time for the back-to-school season, Thomas Built Buses has partnered with YouTube channel Bored Shorts TV to create a “Kid Snippet” video on school bus safety. 

The video premiered on YouTube on Aug. 1, and has already gained thousands of views. 

“School bus safety is a very serious issue that is extremely important to us,” said Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “I have kids and know that sometimes, the best way to teach a child is to make the subject matter memorable. Bored Shorts is known for creating family-friendly entertainment, which is why we partnered with them to share school bus safety tips in a fun way. Through our partnership, we hope to make school bus safety top of mind as children go back to school this school year.”      

The video showcases a humorous dialogue among a bus driver, teacher, and students on school bus rules: a conversation envisioned by children but acted out by adults.  

“We like to see the world through the eyes of children,” said Dave Roberts of Bored Shorts TV. “That’s what makes the videos so funny. We ask children about how to be safe on a school bus and just record their thoughts. When we act out the scenes using adults, the outcome is pure magic.”  

After watching the video, parents and teachers are encouraged to visit Thomas Bus Safety for a complete list of school bus safety rules to discuss with their children.  
 
“At the end of the day, we want to be sure children across the country get to and from school safely,” Edgerly added. “Our hope is that this video serves as a platform for parents and teachers to engage in dialogue with children as they discuss the importance of being safe on and around a school bus.” 

Click here to watch the video.

How New Fuel-Efficiency Standards Could Affect Fleets

Following years of research and review with industry partners, federal regulators have finally issued emissions-reduction and fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles – and it appears to be good news for fleets.

The Phase 2 standards were finalized last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as previously reported, in an effort to encourage the development and deployment of advanced, cost-effective technologies and to regulate two characteristics of heavy-duty vehicles: greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption, especially petroleum fuels.

The adopted Phase 2 rules build off the current Phase 1 GHG and fuel-efficiency regulations in effect from 2014 to 2018 – and now, will also apply to the trailers pulled by Class 8 trucks. According to the EPA and NHTSA, trailers contribute significantly to carbon pollution emissions and the vehicle’s fuel consumption; and as such, the agencies recommend implementing cost-effective technologies – such as aerodynamic devices, low rolling resistance tires and automatic tire inflation systems – that can offer CO2 emission and fuel use reductions.

As stated in the nearly 1,700-page document, the new standards require truck, engine and trailer manufacturers to meet three efficiency milestones – first in 2021, then in 2024, and lastly, in 2027 – for Class 4 through Class 8 vehicles, including various large trucks, delivery and passenger vans, school buses, work trucks, and long-haul tractor-trailers.

Increasingly phasing in over the course of time, the standards require heavy-duty trucks to become 2.5% more efficient each year between 2021 and 2027. And by 2027, tractor-trailers, delivery trucks and school buses are all expected to achieve 25% lower carbon emissions and fuel consumption relative to today’s standards.

Overall, the EPA states that compared with the original proposal, the final program will achieve a further 10% reduction in GHG emissions and fuel consumption and will feature stronger compliance provisions, including improved test procedures and protection against defeat devices. The final standards also tightened up the proposed diesel engine rules, now reducing CO2 emissions by up to 5% for tractor engines and up to 4% for vocational engines when compared with engines under the 2018 regulations.

For trailer makers, the new rules phase in starting in 2018; for truck and engine makers, the new rules start in 2021 and go to 2027.

This is big news for the trucking industry, considering that heavy-duty trucks currently account for 20% of GHG emissions in the U.S. transportation sector and that these vehicles are set to exceed emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030.

Seeking to reverse this course, federal agencies expect the new standards will lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, reduce oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels and save vehicle owners approximately $170 billion in fuel costs overall.

Although these standards will initially increase vehicle costs – for instance, a large truck that complies with the rules could cost up to $14,000 more – lower fuel costs are anticipated to deliver a favorable payback for truck owners, offsetting the upfront cost within a couple of years. The EPA states that through fuel savings, the buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the cost of new fuel-efficient technology in less than two years.

According to Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president at CALSTART, a national clean transportation technology nonprofit, the new fuel economy standards provide the trucking industry with a clear signal of the engineering, product development and investments that will be needed over the next decade and beyond.

“The standards will not only mean steadily increasing levels of truck fuel savings in the years ahead, but they will also support American technology leadership,” he told NGT News. “Based on an industry assessment CALSTART performed, the U.S. rules could drive the most efficient trucks on the planet and make America the world leader in heavy-duty technology to export to the world.”

Although this action will implement stricter requirements, manufacturers are being given the freedom to choose how they will comply.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx commented in a release that this ruling is “a huge win for the American people, giving us cleaner air, more money saved at the pump and real benefits for consumers across the supply chain,” considering that it “preserves flexibility for manufacturers to deliver on these objectives through a range of innovations and technology pathways.”

Because of this flexibility, these new rules are opening the door for the adoption of alternative fuels, such as natural gas, given that natural gas has a lower carbon content than petroleum fuels. As noted in the ruling, a natural gas vehicle (NGV) with the same fuel efficiency as a diesel-powered vehicle would emit about 20% less CO2 when operating on natural gas and consume no petroleum. An NGV with the same fuel efficiency as a gasoline vehicle would emit about 30% less CO2.

“The standards are designed to be technology- and fuel-neutral, giving the industry a lot of flexibility in how to achieve them,” Van Amburg stated. “That said, compliance with the rules is measured against greenhouse-gas emissions. Natural gas is inherently a lower-emitting fuel source, and therefore, natural gas engines will have a small advantage from this.”

Although these rules won’t exclusively drive the industry toward alternative fuels, many believe the standards could encourage manufacturers now working toward compliance – especially those already investing in such technologies – considering that full compliance will add several thousand dollars to the cost of vehicles running on conventional fuels.

“As GHG rules tighten, natural gas-fueled vehicles may cost less than compliant conventional fuel vehicles, creating a compelling economic argument even without factoring in fuel savings,” stated Jim Arthurs, executive vice president of medium- and heavy-duty truck strategies at Westport Fuel Systems, in a release. “Fleet owners can focus on the environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles now and reap the economic benefits in the future.”

NGVAmerica, the key trade association for the NGV and natural gas refueling industries, says it worked with the NHTSA and the EPA over the past three years to ensure that the benefits of NGVs were reflected under this rulemaking.

According to Jeff Clarke, general counsel and director for regulatory affairs at NGVAmerica, major natural gas OEMs are already well-positioned to meet the new standards, and there will be strong competitive advantages for manufacturers offering new trucks with natural gas engines in terms of lower operating and maintenance costs.

“We are still trying to understand how some of the changes might impact small business manufacturers of [natural gas] engines and vehicles, as well as conversion companies, but the bottom line is that natural gas engines will continue to play an important role in getting cleaner trucks on the road,” he told NGT News.

Some natural gas engines and vehicles, such as those equipped with Westport’s High Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI) 2.0 and Enhanced Spark Ignition technologies, already meet the GHG standards outlined in the new rules, offering significant emission reduction benefits through the combination of low-carbon fuels and high-efficiency components.

Further, it is possible that these new standards may encourage manufacturers to look into developing hybrid-electric powertrains, seeing as electric drive systems could provide additional torque and decrease the amount of fuel needed to reach highway speeds.

Regardless of the method for compliance, it seems likely that these regulations will lead to significant fuel savings and quick payback periods for fleets overall.

In an independent study on how higher fuel economy levels contribute to fleets’ bottom lines, CALSTART found that all seven truck use categories studied – ranging from Class 2B trucks and vans in commercial fleets to heavy-duty, over-the-road vehicles – showed positive payback from proposed higher fuel economy rules, addressing a core fleet concern.

Specifically, CALSTART’s report, entitled “Higher Fuel Economy – Working for Fleets,” finds that high-mileage operations could see investments in fuel-efficient technologies paid back in as little as nine months.

In the report’s conclusion, the nonprofit stated that fleets with the highest mileage and fuel use would realize the greatest savings in fuel costs and the fastest vehicle payback. With diesel fuel prices projected to rise over the next 10 years, higher fuel economy standards could enable fleets operating Class 8 tractors, for example, to save up to $20,000 per year/per truck in fuel costs.

“Now, we all know that fuel economy benefits vary by specific driving cycles, drivers, miles, fuel costs, idling time and the like, and we encourage fleets to get a handle on how they really use their equipment to prepare – but all the data shows fleets should directly benefit from the new trucks and buses that will be coming,” stated Van Amburg.

However, there are those who remain wary of the burden the standards may place on fleets and manufacturers.

American Trucking Associations (ATA) is “cautiously optimistic” about the second round of standards, hoping the 10-year phase-in period for the regulation will not be unduly disruptive.

“While efficiency milestones for vehicles, engines and trailers have all been slightly increased over the agencies’ initial proposal, we are encouraged that they addressed several important issues in the final rule, including undertaking annual rule assessments, not accelerating compliance timelines from those originally proposed and refining emissions modeling based on industry data,” said Glen Kedzie, ATA’s vice president and energy and environmental counsel, in a company announcement.

“However, while the potential for real cost savings and environmental benefits under this rule are there, fleets will ultimately determine the success or failure of this rule based on their comfort level purchasing these new technologies,” he reasoned.

Still, the ATA noted that the Phase 2 standards are on the right track, stating it will continue working with its members and the federal agencies to ensure the objectives of this regulation are achieved.

Although it remains uncertain whether these standards will move the needle on alt-fuel adoption, trucking fleets across the U.S. can expect to ultimately benefit from this effort and look forward to considerable savings in the near future.

Click here to view the original article via NGT News.

 

Districts Honored For Leadership In School Bus Propane

Andres Montes of Houston ISD accepting his district's Leadership with Propane Autogas Award.  

Andres Montes of Houston ISD accepting his district's Leadership with Propane Autogas Award.

 

The Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) presented the inaugural Leadership with Propane Autogas Awards at the STN EXPO last month in recognition of school districts that have demonstrated a commitment to sustainable practices through the use of propane autogas school buses.

The three recipients were Houston Independent School District, the East Sac County Community School District in Iowa and Mobile County Public Schools in Alabama.

“The 2016 leadership with propane autogas award recipients have impacted their communities by choosing clean, affordable, domestically-produced propane autogas fuel for their fleets and I’m very proud to recognize them today,” said Bill Platz, president of Delta Liquid Energy, who presented the awards during an STN EXPO Clean Cities general session on July 26.

Houston ISD’s fleet currently includes 123 propane school buses, with plans to add 40 more in the near future.  The district first integrated propane buses in 2011, with the initial purpose or reducing emissions, as the Houston area has strict pollution policies. Andres Montes, one of the district’s fleet operations shop managers who accepted the award on behalf of the district, said that switching to propane had led to savings in maintenance costs.

“Fuel savings has been the primary benefit, combined with lower maintenance costs for an overall savings of up to $3,000 per bus per year,” he said.

Phil Howes, director of transportation for the East Sac County Community School District, was also present to accept his district’s award.

“It is quite an honor to receive the first ever award. As we were one of the first in NW Iowa to start using propane, it was a commitment that I am glad we took on,” he said. “We will continue to use it to save our district taxpayer money.”

The district bought propane buses primarily due to the often-harsh weather conditions in Iowa. With diesel buses, drivers had to idle for long periods of time during the winter, which wasted fuel and caused wear on the engine and emissions system components. Howes said the district saves as much as $8,000 per year on decreased fuel and maintenance costs.

“I eventually plan on switching our whole fleet over to propane,” he said.

Pat Mitchell, director of transportation at Mobile County Public Schools was not able to accept the award in person but he submitted a video message played during the ceremony.

“This is a huge deal for us and we are so honored,” he said.

The MCPS distict runs 80 propane buses, over 10 percent of its fleet.

“We anticipate purchasing more,” said Mitchell.

“School districts across the country are realizing the tremendous benefits associated with operating propane school buses,” commented Michael Taylor, PERC’s director of autogas business development. “These three award-winning districts are saving money, helping the environment, and being good stewards of their community and constituents by transitioning their school bus fleets to propane buses.”

Editor's note — PERC and STN intend to make the awards an annual event, with potential plans to further open up the nominations.

Click here to view the original article. 

UPS Drives 1 Billion Cleaner Miles, Meets Goal Early

UPS announced the company has achieved its goal of driving 1 billion miles in its alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet one year earlier than planned, and marked more than 10 years of learning from its “Rolling Laboratory.” UPS’s long-term commitment to sustainability is transforming commercial transportation and logistics, spurring growth in the clean fuels market and powering critical engineering advances. The company’s wider sustainability progress is detailed in the 14th annual Sustainability Report,

“We had a big sustainability goal as we set out to make the most of our rolling laboratory by driving 1 billion clean miles in alternative fuel vehicles – that’s the equivalent of well over 4,000 trips to the moon,” said David Abney, chairman and CEO of UPS. “While attaining this goal is new, our commitment to seeking out alternative fuels actually dates back to the 1930s when UPS tested electric vehicles. With more than 100,000 drivers logging more than 3 billion miles per year, our future depends on our ability to meet the growing demand for global trade while reducing our impact on the environment.”

UPS deepened its commitment to alternative fuels in 2012 when it set the goal of reaching 1 billion miles driven with alternative fuels by the end of 2017. Shattering that goal one year early, about 12% of the conventional diesel and gasoline fuel previously used by UPS’s ground fleet is now being replaced by alternative fuels, including renewable natural gas and renewable diesel.

“The question wasn’t should we make alternative fuels work?” said Mike Whitlatch, UPS’s vice president of global energy and procurement. “Instead, it was ’What’s the best way to make alternative fuels work for UPS, and for the environment?’ After more than a decade of focus, we are now driving more than 1 million miles globally each business day in our alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet.”

Recognizing alternative fuels and advanced technologies each have unique advantages depending on the routes and geographies in which they are used, UPS deploys the more than 7,200 vehicles in the Rolling Lab to determine what works best in each situation. From old-fashioned pedal power and electric-assisted bicycles in dense urban areas like London and Hamburg to electric and hybrid electric vehicles in the U.S., and natural gas, renewable natural gas, and propane globally, UPS is putting sustainability innovation into action, all over the world.

From old-fashioned pedal power and electric-assisted bicycles in dense urban areas like London and Hamburg to electric and hybrid electric vehicles in the U.S., and natural gas, renewable natural gas and propane globally, UPS is putting sustainability innovation into action, all over the world.

“Many congested cities around the world are implementing zero tailpipe emissions zones, and UPS is keeping ahead of the curve by investing in advanced technologies and creating the commercial delivery fleet of the future,” said Abney. 

By the end of 2016, UPS will have invested more than $750 million in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations globally since 2009. That continued investment, combined with supportive government policies, and a collaborative set of partners has helped to expand development and utilization of alternative fuels, vehicles, and infrastructure throughout the world.

Along the way UPS learned several lessons that can help other companies make sustainability investments that create long-term payoffs:

Encourage innovation. What started out as an “approach” has become an ecosystem of innovation and progress shaped by collaboration with suppliers, policymakers, and other stakeholders. UPS applied its expertise in logistics to the sustainability challenge and leveraged the scale of its 100,000 vehicle fleet to drive technology, market, and infrastructure improvements that make cleaner fuels and technologies economically viable. 

Adapt and tailor the solution. The best solution is not always the perfect solution. The fuels and vehicles that work in one region or one setting may not make sense in another. Technology constraints, range, infrastructure availability, government policies and local air quality goals all play a role in determining vehicle deployment and fuel selection.  

There’s no substitute for real-world big data. UPS is able to see 30,000 delivery route optimizations per minute through its On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION) system, which uses fleet telematics and algorithms to reduce the number of miles driven. The application of this big data approach to the UPS Rolling Lab’s fleet has been a key enabler to improving performance and reducing costs. When fully implemented, ORION is expected to help UPS avoid 100 million miles driven every year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 metric tons annually, and avoid 10 million gallons of fuel per year.

It takes consistent, unwavering commitment from leadership. Long-term investments don’t always pay off in the short term. Economic and market forces are constantly changing, and the political environment that is necessary to foster investment and infrastructure development can be unpredictable. It took UPS more than a decade to reach a point where the accumulation of miles driven by its fleet was rising nearly exponentially. That wouldn’t have happened without a long-term commitment.   

Partner, promote and report progress. Sharing progress and learnings with key stakeholders and partnering with alternative fuel and technology developers, non-profits, government agencies and industry trade groups have been critical to the Rolling Laboratory’s success. UPS reports its progress annually in its Sustainability Report and includes key metrics such as CO2 emissions, energy consumption, and alternative fuel and advanced technology miles driven, among others. Together, these metrics demonstrate the positive impact of the company’s sustainability and social responsibility programs. 

Click here to view the original article by Automotive Fleet.

 

Propane buses offer long-term savings despite initial price tag

Dive Brief:

  • While propane buses cost more than the traditional diesel alternatives, many school districts are footing the bill in favor of lower operating and maintenance costs.
  • District Administration reports the price differential for new buses is $15,000, but a 2014 study by the Argonne National Laboratory found five districts using propane buses saved as much as 50% on a cost-per-mile basis and were able to recoup their costs in three to eight years.
  • Propane-powered buses are still new, which makes their long-term value uncertain, so experts recommend doing a cost analysis before buying, talking to other districts about their experiences, searching for the lowest price on the buses, and investing in training for mechanics as well as a propane fueling station. 

Dive Insight:

School districts across the country are strapped for cash and growing demands for more and better technology in the classroom and high-quality training for teachers often overshadows other operational needs.

Transportation is also an area where some states are reducing reimbursement levels to districts in the face of budget crises. The key question in the switch to propane buses is whether there will be time to recoup the higher initial investment costs. A range of three to eight years is significant, and districts will have to think carefully about how often they replace buses and how the switch to propane will impact the ability to maintain the fleet. 

Recommended Reading

District Administration: Propane bus fleets gain momentum in U.S. schools

Click here to view the original article. 

Save the Environment, Save Your Bottom Line with Propane

How often do we hear about cost getting in the way of making environmentally-responsible decisions? Too often, I’d say.

Yet that may be changing as more folks take a closer look at propane as an option and become more aware of its cost-saving green benefits. 

That’s certainly what Phil Howes, director of transportation for the East Sac County Community School District in Lake View, Iowa, hears from people in his community when they come across one of the seven propane autogas school buses he purchased for his fleet.

“People pull up behind you and then they’ll stop…and ask about them. Then when you tell them how much you’re saving, ‘oh my gosh,’ they just can’t believe it,” Howes said.

Each bus saves the district as much as $8,000 per year on fuel costs and decreased maintenance to spend on district programs directly serving students, while also reducing bus idling and exposure to harmful fumes.

The Propane Education and Research Council recognized East Sac County Community School District, along with Houston Independent School District in Houston, Texas, and Mobile County Public Schools in Mobile, Alabama for their commitment to sustainability at the School Transportation News Expo in Nevada this week.

These are the first Leadership with Propane Autogas Awards PERC has awarded with plans to continue as more districts adopt propane school buses and transition away from older diesel engines that emit particulate matter that is a known carcinogen, contributing to asthma and respiratory illnesses. East Sac County plans on switching the district’s entire fleet to propane.

And I think many more will too as more people come to find that being a good steward of the environment doesn’t have to come with a cost. Who says saving the environment can’t also save money?

Learn more about how school districts are saving more money for the classroom by switching to propane at http://www.propane.com/on-road-fleets/testimonials/school-transportation/.

Click here to view the original post by Roy Willis, CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council.

Propane Makes News at ACT Expo

The propane industry made a strong showing at the ACT (Advanced Clean Transportation) Expo May 2016 in Long Beach, Calif., with a focus on propane at a session on urban mobility and various booths showing the latest products. The event featured the appearance of a PSI propane-fueled (LP) terminal tractor prototype and an agreement for ICOM North America to supply liquid injection propane systems for vehicles and school buses for First Priority Green Fleet.

“We love being at ACT because it’s the merger of futuristic technologies and emissions and clean air and gives us a chance to talk about how propane meets that today,” said Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).

PERC had a booth at the show and was a Gold Sponsor of the event. Roush CleanTech, CleanFUEL USA, ICOM North America, and the United Propane AutoGas Solutions (UPAS) Group were among the propane industry companies with booths promoting their latest products and services.

Perkins spoke at a session on “The Future of Urban Mobility: Advanced Technologies That Will Transform Our Cities,” telling attendees that 9000 school buses hauled half a million children to school on propane school buses that morning. The propane school bus market did not even exist 10 years ago, he said. Today, every school bus manufacturer offers a propane product. 

He went on to discuss the fleet market, noting that fleet buyers decide on propane almost exclusively for the emissions benefits. The fleet drivers also prefer propane vehicles, the communities like that propane is a domestic clean-burning fuel, and fleet maintenance staff say propane vehicles are easier to maintain than diesel. School administrators talk about how the fuel cost savings from propane allows them to use the extra funding to hire more teachers or to buy equipment for activities such as the school band or football team.

Perkins told attendees how Virginia Commonwealth University is using propane-fueled shuttle buses, how successful propane has been in the taxicab market in areas such as Las Vegas and Detroit, and how police fleets are also moving quickly to propane.

He promoted propane’s successful use in Ford trucks. “We’ve been talking about the most storied truck in the U.S., the F-150,” Perkins noted. “We have liquid California-certified, vapor EPA-only, multiple models of aftermarket bi-fuel, so whatever you want, we have a Ford truck. I think that typifies where our market has gone, from nothing to a very aggressive market in models and applications.” He provided a list of “Why Fleets Choose Propane Autogas,” with reasons such as total cost of ownership, reduced maintenance, driver morale/employee retention, and noise reduction.
“I don’t think we talk about [noise] enough,” he stressed. “Our drivers consistently say ‘I prefer driving a propane vehicle because it’s quieter.’ When you used to have diesel buses, my kids never missed the bus, because I knew three blocks away where the bus was.” He went on to tell attendees about his “favorite application,” a propane-powered pothole patcher, and added that is one of various “unique applications that work in cities today and will work in cities in the future.”

He called direct injection “the future of propane” and added that “the marriage of propane into a direct-injection engine brings us technology we have never seen before,” with reduced emissions, better power, and better fuel efficiency, all at a lower cost.

He talked about bio-propane, noting that although propane supply is currently high, the industry is looking at bio-propane for the future. Plants are producing bio-propane in Europe, and “we know that is the path for us in the U.S. in the future.”

Speaking with BPN from the show floor on May 4 following his presentation, Perkins mentioned Tico Manufacturing’s announcement at the expo that it would showcase a prototype of a new propane-fueled terminal tractor powered by the PSI 8.8-liter engine. PERC has been engaged in the port tractor market for about three years. He said the new Tico product would allow the propane industry to push various products at different ports as a strong option for materials handling. Many port tractors use about 10,000 gallons of propane a year, so they are a great propane autogas gallon-growing opportunity.

Several other propane industry vendors and partners spoke with BPN from the show floor, including Ralph Perpetuini, CEO of ICOM North America (New Hudson, Mich.).

Icom is optimistic about the propane industry, and Perpetuini discussed the First Priority Green Fleet agreement, noting that First Priority is a manufacturer and distributor for Lion School Bus and other companies that produce propane, hybrid, electric, and compressed natural gas vehicles. 

“It’s exciting,” Perpetuini stated. “We’ll get our propane fuel injection systems on vehicles and through customers that First Priority already has on their customer list.”

He also disclosed that Icom had just received EPA certifications for approximately 100 GM vehicle platforms for 2016-model 6.0L and 4.8L Chevrolet Silverado pickups, cutways, and vans. The company is awaiting certification for its system on Ford’s direct-injection EcoBoost engine for the Ford Explorer, F-150, and Taurus, and he added that Icom also expects a certification soon for the 2016 Ford 6.2-liter F-250 and F-350.

 “It definitely broadens our already very wide and extended range of over 700 EPA-certified platforms,” and it allows Icom to offer fleets a propane system for all of its vehicles, not just a few. 

CleanFUEL USA (Georgetown, Texas) displayed its newest fueling product, the Elaflex Euro nozzle that includes eConnect software technology for remote access to diagnostics and reporting. CleanFUEL USA founder and president Curtis Donaldson was at ACT Expo and explained that the Euro nozzle name is somewhat misleading because it’s predominantly used in Spain and Portugal, not throughout Europe. “Elaflex has over 90% of that market share. They have produced more Euro-nozzles than any other manufacturer. It is the preferred choice.”

Various additional propane products garnered attention at the event, including applications that Perkins of PERC pointed out were not in existence only seven or eight years ago. He noted that a beverage delivery truck, on display at the show, was the result of a partnership between Roush CleanTech (Livonia, Mich.) and Mickey Truck Bodies (High Point, N.C.). Mickey Truck Bodies has been around a while, but the body with a propane system is new. Roush also displayed an F-550 Pepsi truck.

Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing at Roush CleanTech, confirmed the company was having its best year ever, and that its focus on the Class 4-7 vehicles and the school bus business has paid off. More than 500 school districts are using Bluebird school buses with the Roush CleanTech propane fueling system. His company works with Bluebird dealers and the school districts to capture lifecycle cost, fuel cost, and maintenance data that helps Roush CleanTech make the case for propane autogas. 

“We have a TCO [total cost of ownership] calculator with Bluebird, and we help the school districts calculate their savings,” Mouw said. “It’s powerful stuff.” 

He added that four to five beverage distributors in California will test the Mickey Body beverage delivery truck and that one California water delivery company will soon replace some older trucks and is testing the Mickey Body/Roush truck. 

“They have already got the infrastructure,” Mouw stated. “Being able to stay with propane and move to the more modern technology with liquid injection is the desired path.” He added that the paratransit industry is probably Roush CleanTech’s second-fastest growing market behind school buses. The E-450 and F-550 burn a lot of fuel and come back to a central spot each evening. He revealed that a “major transit agency in Delaware” will soon announce it is converting much of its fleet to propane. 

Many companies are switching their fleets of vehicles over to propane autogas, but the propane industry itself has been slow to adopt the fuel for its own fleets. 

Michael Taylor, director of autogas business development for PERC, discussed a recent PERC report titled “Growing Gallons Within the Industry,” which explores why propane marketers are resisting using propane autogas for their own fleets, even though they could achieve greater total cost of ownership savings by doing so. The report uses information from a past paper by Mike Sloan of ICF International and notes that the total propane bobtail population is about 21,712, with each vehicle expected to travel about 30,000 miles per year. If each bobtail consumed about 5000 gallons of propane annually, that would translate to an addition of more than 108 million gallons of demand just by converting bobtails to propane.

“Being a former employee of a marketer and playing the role of fleet director, honestly I don’t understand why more propane marketers aren’t buying propane-powered vehicles,” said Taylor, who is a former fleet director for Heritage Propane. The report acknowledges that diesel is cleaner today but it still comes with a cost. When Taylor worked for Heritage, it was known that the company’s productivity went down because of the requirements to operate and maintain diesel engines. 

He noted that bobtails are similar to school buses, which have seen wide adoption of propane autogas. “We’re very similar markets, but in terms of gross vehicle weight rating, it’s a similar payload, and we have a lot of stop-and-go routes just like school buses do, so to me it’s a no-brainer for a propane marketer to make this decision.”

The PERC report discusses barriers to marketer adoption of propane autogas such as durability of the engines, but Taylor responded that propane engines today are very durable. “They’re going to supply you with the duty cycles that are required over the lifetime of the bobtail or any Class 7 vehicle.” Taylor added, “Durability is no longer a question.” The report lists “lack of preferred vehicles” as another barrier, but Taylor countered that Freightliner Custom Chassis and Ford offer Class 7 products. In addition, PERC is working with Navistar and has talked with Kenworth and Peterbilt about offering propane products.

“These are perceived barriers to adoption,” Taylor noted. “You are going to pay more upfront for the price of the propane [vehicle]. But when you look at the cost of the fuel, the reduced maintenance cost, you don’t have what I call the 3 Fs — the fuel costs, additional fluids and filters required on diesels — there’s huge savings.” 

Ted Olsen of propane fleet fuel provider network Arro AutoGas also attended ACT Expo, promoting propane through the PERC booth and chatting with potential customers for the Arro Autogas network. He pointed out that the network is up to 22 propane autogas stations and that it opened four or five this past winter.

“We’re looking for fleet customers who might be interested in getting propane vehicles in the California area,” Olsen remarked. “I’ll introduce them to my stations so they know where they can get fuel 24/7 through the Arro AutoGas network.”    —Daryl Lubinsky

Click here to view the original article via BPNews