The Takeaway on Autogas from the Recent Propane Summit

Das Cheap: Autogas for sale at a German gas station. (image: Björn Koblow via flickr.com)

Some major players in the international propane game, representing two dozen countries, gathered in Washington DC earlier in February to talk LPG, along with autogas (a.k.a. propane that goes in a car’s gas tank). Here are three quick takes on what was discussed.

1. Autogas has a perception problem.
“Are you telling me that I can run a truck with the same gas I use to cook hamburgers and hot dogs?” one moderator asked, repeating a question many people ask when they hear about propane-mobiles. What needs to be done? Raise awareness about propane’s multi-platform functionality away from the grill.

2. When it comes to U.S. autogas, carmakers are focused on fleet vehicles.
One speaker said General Motors is developing a 6-liter and 8-liter autogas engine to bring to market over the next two years. These are engines for heavy-duty commercial trucks or buses. But there was no mention of consumer models, which are being developed overseas — and which would likely help boost propane’s status in the eyes of the public.

3. Autogas remains a good-conscience fuel.
Propane’s green advantages get trotted out in the local news every time a school district thinks about buying a new propane school bus, and sometimes the numbers don’t quite match up. So here’s the official word from the industry: Autogas engines cut greenhouse gas emissions between 15 and 25 percent compared to gasoline. In addition, about 90-percent of U.S. propane is produced in the country, with that number expected to increase in coming years.

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