Webinar Questions & Answers
Q: What does it cost to install propane infrastructure?
A: Depending on the propane marketer you partner with and the number of gallons you will be using per year, the cost of installing infrastructure can be very minimal. In some cases, when a fuel contract is agreed upon, the infrastructure will be installed at little cost to the customer. The customer is only responsible for the electrical and crash barriers.
Q: The Clean Cities / DOE alternative fuel price report shows propane prices being much higher than what you mentioned. What is PERC doing to educate propane dealers on their autogas pricing?
A: PERC asks propane marketers specifically for fleet autogas pricing instead of simply propane price. This will demonstrate more accurately what fleets are paying to fuel their fleet vehicles.
Q: Who makes Freightliner's engines?
A: GM manufactures the engines; Clean Fuels USA manufactures the fuel system.
Q: Is there a correlation between the cost of gasoline and the cost of propane?
A: Indirectly. There are two major sources of propane: 70% comes from Natural Gas Production; the remaining 30% is a bi-product of crude oil refining. In order to use either Crude Oil or Natural Gas, propane MUST be extracted. Propane is still a commodity, therefore the pricing will vary with markets, but at a much less volatile rate when compared to gasoline. For instance, over the past 4 weeks gasoline prices have risen about 20 cents per gallon across the nation, whereas, propane prices have only increased about 4 cents per gallon. Since more and more propane comes as a bi-product of natural gas and since we have such an abundance of propane supply, prices are relatively anchored and much less volatile. With propane being 98 percent North American produced, we also don’t have to worry about price rising due to international threats or conflicts.
ICF international recently did a study on the price of propane autogas. The study forecasts a very stable propane price and volatile gasoline prices through the end of 2013. Other third party futures estimates back this research as well. Click here to read the results of that study.
Q: What is the difference between propane autogas and the propane used in the BBQ grill? Are the filling stations any different?
A: The chemical makeup of propane autogas and propane for a bbq are exactly the same: “C3H8.” The term “autogas” is more of an industry branding strategy and identifies different fuel usages. The world renowned term for propane used as an engine fuel is “autogas.” If you were to drive the streets of Turkey today, your typical convenience store would display pricing for gasoline, diesel, and autogas. We recommend using HD-5 propane in all ROUSH vehicles. Our vehicles can accept other levels of fuel (HD-10 – slightly more particles) and we have filtration systems in place to keep the fuel system running healthily in case of poor fuel.
The filling stations are different. The ROUSH Propane Autogas system is a “closed” system, with a fuel send and fuel return line. This requires slightly more advanced fueling equipment due to variances in pressure. Most any propane vendor has access and can speak knowledgably on the recommended equipment for filling a ROUSH CleanTech vehicle. That being said, more times than not, a vehicle will be able to fill at a station designed for filling BBQ cylinders, because the nozzle is a universal head. The downside is these stations sometimes fill slowly or not at all depending on the tank temperature and duty cycle of the vehicle.
Q: Does ROUSH CleanTech convert diesel engines to propane autogas?
A: ROUSH CleanTech does not currently switch vehicles from diesel to propane autogas, only from gasoline.
Q: Is vehicle life expectancy affected by the conversion (i.e. do they last longer or shorter and are there more or less maintenance issues)?
A: Life expectancy of propane autogas vehicles are expected to remain the same as gasoline vehicles. It is recommended to perform the same routine maintenance intervals on your propane autogas vehicles, but we have found that because of the cleaner burning fuel, the period in between maintenance check-ups can last longer.
Q: Have fleets had any issues with building codes or retrofitting buildings to accommodate vehicle storage and maintenance?
A: In most cases, there are NO shop modifications necessary to service and store propane autogas vehicles. Though propane is a vapor when released, it is heavier than air (much like gasoline and diesel) therefore seeking out low lying areas. Propane also quickly disperses with the slightest bit of air flow, therefore, it does not pool, puddle, or settle. When evaluating any alternative fuels, it is always recommended for fleet directors to schedule a shop inspection with the fire marshal and local officials prior to investing in new assets. Code varies by location.