There’s nothing quite as satisfactory as saving money—especially when you have a whole fleet to worry about. Switching to propane autogas can save you money in multiple ways, including downtime and maintenance costs. This alternative fuel is not only something the US has an abundance of, but new technologies make it as easy to fuel as gasoline and diesel—meaning no need to pile on the personal protection gear. Plus, propane autogas availability is expanding, making it more accessible. Todd Mouw, VP of sales and marketing, ROUSH CleanTech, discusses trends in the propane autogas industry.
MWS: WHAT WERE THE MAJOR DATA TRENDS OVER THE COURSE OF 2016 AS FAR AS CONSISTENT PROPANE AUTOGAS USE, AS WELL AS NEW CONVERSIONS WITHIN FLEETS?
MOUW: We saw a major shift in Class 4 through Class 7 work trucks from diesel to propane autogas. Industry leaders, such as Nestle and Bimbo, are showcasing the significant cost and maintenance savings a fleet can realize by making this transition.
MWS: WHAT TRENDS ARE WE LIKELY TO SEE IN 2017?
MOUW: Even with diesel prices relatively low, our sales momentum continues to grow. In fact, we will have our largest sales year in company history in 2017. Our fleet partners continue to tell us that they need a simpler, lower cost alternative to the growing complexity of a diesel engine; propane really rings the bell on this need.
MWS: IS THERE A PARTICULAR VEHICLE CLASS THAT HAS SEEN A HIGHER RATE OF CONVERSIONS TO PROPANE? IF SO, WHAT MIGHT BE THE REASON FOR THIS?
MOUW: There is a larger demand for Class 6 and Class 7 trucks, because those tend to consume more fuel and cost the most to operate. Fleets tend to keep these assets longer due to their initial cost, so implementing an alternative fuel technology, such as propane, on a Class 6 or Class 7 truck provides an even greater return on their investment.
MWS: IS THERE A PARTICULAR INDUSTRY (UTILITY, MUNICIPALITY, PICKUP AND DELIVERY, ETC.) SHOWING A HIGHER CONVERSION RATE? IF SO, WHAT MIGHT BE THE REASON FOR THIS?
MOUW: We are seeing a lot of interest from the food and beverage fleets. I think the fact that smaller fleets seeing industry leaders, such as Nestle Waters and Bimbo, making the transition gives them the confidence that the technology and business case has been sufficiently vetted.
MWS: WHAT MAY BE THE FUNDAMENTAL REASON, IN YOUR OPINION, THAT SOME FLEET MANAGERS/OWNERS ARE HOLDING BACK FROM SWITCHING TO PROPANE AUTOGAS, AND HOW CAN THIS ISSUE BE ADDRESSED?
MOUW: Great question. I think the biggest barriers are human nature—which is typically resistant to change regardless of what the change is—and the perception that diesel prices are low and the return on investment does not make sense.
I would tell fleets that even at today’s diesel prices, you can save several thousands of dollars per truck per year in fuel and maintenance reductions by making the move to propane. They can listen to me or talk to one or more of our 1,000 customers who have deployed our technology and accumulated more than 400 million miles of data. This “evidence manual,” as we like to call it, allows fleets to talk with their peers and understand just how perfect a fit our fuel and technology is in the Class 4 through Class 7 space.
With propane autogas filling improvements, such as the quick-connect nozzle, and greater availability of pumps throughout the US, it’s clear that some of the largest challenges in securing propane autogas as a viable, long term alternative fuel have been addressed.
MWS: WHAT OTHER CHALLENGES ARE THERE THAT, ONCE MET, WILL MAKE PROPANE AUTOGAS EVEN MORE APPEALING?
MOUW: I believe that most of the road blocks have been removed and that we have a “shovel ready” fuel and technology that can make a significant impact on a fleet’s bottom line, as well as how they are perceived in the community. We have an energy resource that is being vastly underutilized; last year we exported more than 10 billion gallons of propane to countries that are using it for their transportation needs.
In our great country, sometimes we like to overthink situations or want to look for the most glamorous or sexy product rather than focus on a solution that is right in front of us—readily available, lower cost, cleaner, and almost 90 percent domestically produced propane autogas.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Find out more about the benefits of propane autogas, visit www.roushcleantech.com.