With those nasty gasoline prices constantly climbing, many Americans are exploring alternative fuels for their vehicles. Whether you’re in it for the environmental benefits or simply need a more affordable way of getting around, you’ve got several options to contemplate: biodiesel, compressed natural gas, electricity, ethanol, fuel cells, methanol…it’s enough to boggle the mind! Yet, one alternative stands out as a particularly cost-effective choice. Thanks to its clean-burning qualities, domestic availability, and high energy density, propane autogas now powers over 8 million vehicles worldwide. The best part? It’s relatively cheap. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge into the world of propane, here are a few ways you could be saving your hard earned Benjamins.
1. The best way to save on autogas is by using it. Propane autogas is the clean burning love child of petroleum and natural gas refining processes – it’s a byproduct that usually follows the pricing trends of gasoline and diesel, with one major difference. It costs about 30-40% less per gallon. Because there are currently no propane-powered automobiles available for sale in the United States, some prospective buyers are deterred by the cost of conversion technology. It costs approximately $5,800 to convert the average vehicle, depending on make and model. However, if you do any significant amount of driving, it’ll certainly be worth it in the long run.
Fuel Tax Credits
2. Recently, Congress approved a 50-cent per gallon propane autogas fuel tax credit. That kind of discount goes a long way. And, on December 17th, President Obama signed a new law under the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Authorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that ensures this fuel tax credit will remain effective through the end of this year. That’s not too shabby. Every state except Wyoming currently offers some type of tax incentive that benefits autogas users, with California and Arizona offering the most. Most industry insiders expect this trend to persist as the government continues to encourage alternative fuel use.
3. You’ll save serious cash on auto maintenance and your car will actually have a longer life expectancy. Because the combustion is smoother and cleaner, your engine, oil plugs and spark plugs will endure less wear and tear, and thus, last longer. You won’t have to change your oil as often, and you’ll have less carbon build-up clogging your engine. Some insurance companies even offer lower rates for vehicles that run on autogas, if you show them a certificate of compliance you receive when your convert your system.
On average, autogas provides vehicles a 2 to 3 years longer service life. In fact, according to FerrellAutogas, one of the largest propane autogas providers in the U.S., switching from gasoline to autogas will give you a net vehicle lifetime savings of nearly $18,000. To see the company’s breakdown of the numbers, check out their website.