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Written by: Jessica Johnson, National Accounts Coordinator for Thompson Gas

Every new year is accompanied by new goals, and businesses that announce annual sustainability goals are becoming more commonplace. Companies across the nation are looking at alternatives to gasoline and diesel vehicles in their fleets, and Thompson AutoGas provides a one-stop propane autogas solution. In the segment below we will explore the question, “What does a successful autogas program look like?”

c3h8 molecule

Let’s begin by identifying the fuel itself. “What is autogas?” Simply put, autogas is the name for propane when it is used as a motor fuel. Autogas is non-toxic and water-soluble. It does not contaminate ground soil if spilled and in fact, is the third most widely used alternative fuel in the world. Propane is considered a clean alternative fuel according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Policy Act of 1992.

transit van

What happens under the hood?

When considering any major change to their fleet, a business must first complete a Vehicle Assessment to determine which autogas system might be the best fit.

Propane autogas is available in after-market applications and can also be included as part of the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s design. Monofuel systems, or “dedicated” systems use propane as the primary and exclusive fuel for the vehicle.

A bi-fuel system uses a small amount of gasoline to start the vehicle, and within a couple of minutes, the engine automatically switches to using propane. Some benefits to mono fuel systems include eliminating petrol completely and ensuring driver adoption. Some perks of a bi-fuel system are that the vehicle’s range is essentially doubled, in that it can travel for hundreds of miles before either of the fuel tanks must be refilled.

Another advantage to having a bi-fuel system means that with the press of a button, a vehicle can switch to running on gasoline if propane is not available. Autogas systems are EPA certified and do not void a vehicle manufacturer’s warranty.

quick connect nozzle 2 photo

Where do I get fuel?

Fueling an autogas vehicle is quick and easy, and some businesses may choose to install refueling infrastructure at their location. Most infrastructure costs can be built into a fleet’s fuel cost or offset by government grants and other funding. On-site fueling ensures real-time fuel management and no risk of fuel theft.

If a fleet chooses to refuel at multiple locations, these can easily be found by accessing the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s Alternative Fuel Locator Map. Shared access sites help eliminate upfront infrastructure costs for smaller fleets. With most autogas dispensers, real-time fuel data gives insight into each vehicle’s usage, allowing fleet managers to identify patterns of use or misuse.

mechanic working on bus photo

Who makes it all happen?

Installation and service are additional elements to think of when considering an autogas program. Propane autogas service and installation centers are located across the country and are trained and certified to perform vehicle conversion and maintenance. As with most fleets, downtime is a factor, and depending on the type of autogas system, installation can take 1-3 business days.

Additionally, there is minimal vehicle modification needed, and autogas tank placement can be designed to maximize fuel usage, with some vehicles employing two autogas tanks for maximum fuel efficiency. Quick and easy installation paired with regular maintenance is the key to keeping autogas vehicles on the road, and with autogas the maintenance is easy. With no DEF to keep up with and filter changes annually, engine life is unchanged and, in some cases extended.

Where can I learn more?

Thompson AutoGas encourages everyone to look at how autogas might fit into their energy calculation and consider what benefits there might be for the environment and their fleet.

For more information, visit https://propane.com/environment/ or https://thompsonautogas.com/.

About ThompsonGas

Founded and operated since 1946, ThompsonGas provides propane services to more than 250,000 residential, commercial, and agricultural customers across 25 states in the East, Southeast, West and Midwestern United States. ThompsonGas continues to operate under the business principles of trust, service, and taking care of their employees and attributes these values as the reason for their record growth. ThompsonGas is currently the 6th largest propane company in the U.S. For more information, visit ThompsonGas.com.