Written on: February 21, 2023
by Puneet Singh Jhawar, General Manager – Global Spark Ignited Business
Medium duty vehicle fleets, from postal vans to school buses, are switching to alternative fuels. Among low-carbon emitting fuels, propane, also known as autogas, is one of the most readily available options.
As an alternative to gasoline and diesel, propane vehicles produce less greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants. Thirty billion gallons of propane are produced domestically in the United States, with 20 billion gallons being exported each year. Its price is not subject to shocks connected to global supply and demand. This results in more stable prices over the long run, among other operational benefits. Therefore, propane vehicle operators can secure long-term fuel contracts at fixed costs.
Centralized, regional, and return-to-home base fleets are well suited for propane autogas vehicles. Propane-powered transit vehicles can help improve the air quality in densely populated areas. That’s because, compared to diesel, they have lower NOx emissions, particulate matter and other air pollutants. Additional benefits for more suburban and rural fleets include easy, affordable, and scalable infrastructure as propane is available in every community across the country. Propane is also one of the most accessible alternative fuel sources not only nationwide, but worldwide. Most propane fleets own their fueling infrastructure due to low installation costs, but drivers can also access over 2,600 public refueling sites across the United States.
Urban delivery trucks can lower emissions with propane autogas engines
In 2019, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) committed to lowering its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025. Today, USPS operates a fleet of over 30,000 alternative fuel vehicles and has implemented incentives for contractors to do the same. The Cummins B6.7 propane is an ideal engine for postal vehicles, like USPS and its contractors, seeking to achieve key sustainability goals.
With 325 hp and 750lb-ft peak torque at 1800 RPM, the B6.7 propane can also be used in class 6 straight-box trucks for food and beverage delivery, tow trucks, and terminal tractors. Propane autogas offers fleets in these markets the lowest total cost-of-ownership compared with other fuels. In fact, many fleets have reduced their operating costs by 50 percent after making the switch from diesel.
Utility and service vehicles have been using propane for a long time
Propane is a good fuel source for everyday utility and service vehicles. Propane is widely used for forklifts and can be used for other utility vehicles such as golf carts, street sweepers, and snowplows. Propane is also well-suited for emergency service vehicle fleets such as ambulances and police cars. In 2021, the city of Petersburg, Virginia converted its public fleet of 49 vehicles to run on renewable propane. By switching to the propane fueled fleet, the city forecasted it would save $1,000 per vehicle per year.
School buses running on propane help improve air quality
As mentioned above, propane vehicles help improve air quality. Residents and passengers in city, suburban, and rural areas are less likely to be exposed to harmful exhaust fumes, as propane burns significantly cleaner than other fossil fuels.
School buses are one of the most visible markets for propane autogas. There are currently more than 22,000 propane autogas school buses transporting kids to school each day. Propane autogas engines are also quieter than gasoline/diesel engines and help decrease noise pollution. The Cummins B6.7 propane engine can provide large buses the power to run long, high-capacity routes.
Propane delivery trucks can lower fuel and maintenance cost
Propane delivery trucks, also known as bobtails, are specially designed bulk delivery vehicles that deliver propane to businesses and homes.
Bobtails that run on propane can benefit from lower fuel and maintenance costs while reducing carbon emissions. The new Cummins B6.7 propane engine is well-suited for use in bobtails.
Overall, propane offers many benefits and is well suited for delivery trucks, school buses, utility vehicles and bobtails. It’s a clean burning, low-cost alternative fuel source, available in abundant quantities across the United States and around the world. Are you interested in learning more about propane use in motor vehicles? Check out Cummins B6.7 propane engine for various medium duty applications.
Puneet Singh Jhawar is the General Manager of the global natural gas business for Cummins Inc. In this role, he is responsible for the product vision, financial management and overall performance of the natural gas business. Over his 14-year career at Cummins, Jhawar has cultivated successful relationships with a number of Cummins’ largest customers. Jhawar has extensive global experience, with roles based in the Middle East, India, Europe and the US.