Written on: October 30, 2023
Drivers, maintenance staff for U.S. mail contractor share positive reviews of new vehicles
COURTDALE, PENNSYLVANIA. — Nicholas Trucking Co., Inc., an 80-year-old, family-owned Pennsylvania-based USPS mail contractor, now operates safe, clean, economical trucks fueled with propane autogas.
“Propane is familiar to all of us, and it’s something we can trust. It’s cleaner and safer than most other alternatives,” said Alexander Nicholas, chief operations officer for Nicholas Trucking. “Our goal is to transition away from diesel and continually add more near-zero-emission vehicles to our 45-vehicle fleet.”
The first three Ford F-750 propane vehicles arrived in March 2023. “We hope to add at least five more propane trucks within the next year,” Nicholas said. He stated that the company will save on both operation and fuel costs with its new trucks. Those savings will be put toward the additional vehicles.
Nicholas cites the rising cost of diesel as one of the major catalysts for the company’s move to propane vehicles. Propane typically costs 50% less per gallon than diesel. Nicholas Trucking is currently saving more than 53% on fuel costs and will get $0.37 per gallon additional savings through the federal alternative tax credit.
Nicholas says the company was looking for a greener alternative to diesel emissions. “Vehicles that run on propane emit fewer greenhouse gases, smog-producing hydrocarbons, and particulate emission than conventional fuels,” said Todd Mouw, executive vice president at ROUSH CleanTech, a manufacturer of advanced clean transportation technology. “Our propane engines are 90% cleaner than the Environmental Protection Agency’s most stringent standards.”
According to the Propane Education & Research Council, parcel delivery fleets across the country have been adopting propane autogas. “With propane vehicles, fleet owners can significantly reduce their emissions while saving on operation and energy costs — and do it without compromising on reliability, range or performance,” said Steve Whaley, PERC’s director of autogas. Nicholas Trucking Co. joins a growing number of USPS mail contractors trusting propane to reliably deliver the mail across the country.
Nicholas Trucking Co., which operates its own garage and body shop, has received positive reviews from its staff. “Our maintenance staff say that the propane trucks are easier to work on than they thought, and they don’t have to worry about getting covered in grease and oil from a diesel engine,” said Nicholas. “Everything is simpler. There’s way less oil required and no need for diesel exhaust fluid or particulate matter filter.”
Drivers for Nicholas Trucking say they enjoy the power and reliability of the propane vehicles while navigating the mountains and rough terrain of Northern Pennsylvania, especially in the winter when temperatures frequently stay below freezing.
“There are a ton of things our drivers love about the new trucks. The power and torque are the same as diesel, and drivers don’t go home smelling like diesel fuel every day. They are surprised with the power a propane engine can produce,” said Nicholas. “Our diesel engines do not do nearly as well in the cold.”
Nicholas Trucking elected to install fueling infrastructure onsite through a partnership with AmeriGas. “It’s great,” said Nicholas. “We don’t have to wait in line to fuel, we always know how much we have left in the tank and we can easily track our monthly and weekly use. Plus, it saves on additional costs that a public station may charge.”
Nicholas Trucking was awarded $93,000 through Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Driving PA Forward program to support the initial purchase of the trucks. Propane vehicles offer the lowest total cost of ownership of any fuel type — conventional or otherwise. Government incentives, long-term partnerships with propane providers and coordination with coalitions such as Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Transportation can further drive down costs and support adoption.
About Nicholas Trucking Co., Inc.: Nicholas Trucking is a 4th generation family business that was started in the 1940s with a single truck running one postal contract. Since then, Nicholas Trucking has acquired several contracts in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Area and employs over 40 drivers. With its dedicated garage and body shop plus 24/7 dispatch service, Nicholas Trucking continues to be a dedicated U.S. mail contractor in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
About ROUSH CleanTech: ROUSH CleanTech, an industry leader of advanced clean transportation solutions, is a division of the global engineering company Roush Enterprises. ROUSH CleanTech develops propane autogas technology for medium-duty Ford commercial vehicles and school buses. With more than 37,000 vehicles on the road, the Livonia, Michigan-based company delivers economical, emissions-reducing options for fleets across North America. Learn more at ROUSHcleantech.com or by calling 800.59.ROUSH.
About Propane Education & Research Council: The Propane Education & Research Council is a nonprofit that provides leading propane safety and training programs and invests in research and development of new propane-powered technologies. PERC is operated and funded by the propane industry. For more information, visit Propane.com.