Considering an alternative energy source? Get the facts on propane autogas compared with electric

May 10, 2022
Prior to making the transition to any alternative fuel, there are several important factors fleet owners need to consider when determining which energy source is the best option for their fleet.

Prior to making the transition to any alternative fuel, there are several important factors fleet owners need to consider when determining which energy source is the best option for their fleet. In addition to the emissions profile, fleet owners must consider the costs required to install refueling or recharging infrastructure, the performance of the new vehicles, and the availability of the energy source.

What are the upfront costs?

Fleet owners and operators need to identify all visible and hidden costs that go along with refueling or recharging infrastructure installations, because there are some dramatic differences between the two.

The cost to install infrastructure for 10 propane autogas vehicles with a single 1,000- to 2,000-gallon tank is up to $60,000, including as much as $36,000 for site preparation and equipment, and up to $24,000 for installation.

By comparison, the cost to set up infrastructure for 10 electric vehicles with five level 3 fast EV chargers is up to $480,000, including as much as $200,000 for site prep and equipment, and up to $280,000 for installation. Unlike propane autogas infrastructure, electric infrastructure will most likely have additional costs for items like electric sub-panels, added amperage to power multiple stations, and upgrading and replacing incoming power lines.

What additional costs might I incur?

As with any fuel alternative, there are additional costs associated with more than just the infrastructure. There’s also the refueling/recharging costs themselves. Propane autogas refueling costs are stable throughout the year, and fleet managers can secure lower prices by securing a fuel contract. Electricity costs vary throughout the day and can increase if the demand for power exceeds a station’s capabilities.

The average total cost of ownership for fleets of medium- or heavy-duty propane autogas vehicles, such as school buses and delivery trucks, is lower in most cases than the total cost of ownership for comparable electric vehicle fleets.

How far will I need to drive on a single refuel or recharge?

As for performance, an electric shuttle has a full driving range of about 120 miles on a single charge, which is fine if the fleet is planned for short runs with little variation in its use. Bear in mind that operating any electric option while the vehicle is in use can diminish the driving range. This includes heat, air conditioning, windshield wipers, and the radio. Propane autogas vehicles feature proven technology that can provide a range of more than 400 miles on a single fill.

What is the emissions profile?

Thanks to emerging propane autogas technology, propane autogas is delivering near-zero emissions for its customers. Ultra-low NOx propane engines are 90 percent cleaner than current standards mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 38 U.S. states as well as Washington, D.C., medium-duty vehicles fueled by conventional propane can produce fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions than medium-duty electric vehicles that are charged using the electrical grid.

Is the energy source currently available?

While production of electric vehicles and infrastructure is growing, the current availability of the technology is leaving some fleets in the dark. In some cases, the technology is still in the development stages. Propane autogas is a domestically produced, American-made fuel that is readily available. Engine vehicle technology innovation has ramped up in the last decade and is currently providing fleets with reliable performance

By keeping these costs and considerations in mind and making fact-based comparisons, fleet owners are more likely to make an informed and educated decision on the best alternative for their needs.

For more information on the benefits of propane for your fleet, visit Propane.com.

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