The major propane retailer FerrellGas has launched a new website devoted to “autogas” — a term for propane used to power a vehicle — suggesting renewed support for a fuel that is still gaining traction with car-owners in the U.S.
The website, FerrellAutogas.com, is targeted at the decision-makers who manage business fleets, such as delivery trucks or school buses, and who would collect the largest savings associated with the alternative fuel. There are currently 270,000 propane-powered cars in the country, but not one light-duty sedan available for sale here, according to the Department of Energy.
“The case for converting fleets to autogas gets better every day,” the FerrellGas CEO, Steve Wambold, said in a press release. “Propane powers 14 million vehicles worldwide, and we believe that the domestic marketplace is just waiting for a clean fuel that provides the power fleets need at a price that benefits their bottom line.”
From the landing page, the site promotes the benefits of propane: Lower operating costs, a longer range of any alternative fuel, and reduced toxic emissions.
And the potential savings of propane get a thorough breakdown. A map indicates the tax credits available for LPG-vehicles by state, starting with the 50-cent per gallon federal credit. And a graph charts the prices for gasoline, diesel, and propane over the last few years — in which propane stays pegged at about 70-percent of the price of standard gas.
In the company’s accounting, a propane vehicle could offer savings of almost $18,000 over its life. Most of that would come from lower fuel costs, though propane is also believed to ease the burden on an engine, lowering maintenance costs, too.
A little history. Propane has been powering cars in the United States since the 1920s. Transit authorities in the Midwest were running city buses and taxis on autogas by 1950. Public transportation and fleet vehicles remain a solid consumer of propane, though aside from American drivers who convert their engines to run on LPG, the thought of a propane-powered family sedan hasn’t caught on yet.
That said, carmakers are increasingly putting resources into cars that can run on autogas. In recent weeks, there have been announcements for an LPG-powered compact (the Kia Picanto) and a sports car (the BMW Hurricane) that can top 200 miles per hour.