The streamlined EPA regulations regarding after-market conversions for alternative transportation fuels (for light-duty cars and trucks) got a lot of coverage last week – and those in the industry likely know the key points already. This isn’t a rehash of the changes – but a discussion about how these new certification regulations can help get autogas fleets on the road faster and more efficiently than before.
As many fleet managers interested in alternative fuels have probably learned, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) didn’t exactly make things easy on vehicle conversion equipment providers in the past. Autogas conversion partnerships like Alliance AutoGas provide fleets with a solution that takes the logistical intricacies of switching to an alternative fuel off of the fleet manager’s to-do list. However, conversion system providers like Alliance had the onus for getting any given conversion system EPA-approved every year for the same vehicle make, model, and model year. No matter the age of the vehicle, no matter if the conversion system components stayed the same from one year to the next.
This meant a brand new 2010 Ford F-150 would have the same certification rules that applied to a much older model year vehicle, and both would have to jump through the same hoops every year. This struck many people as, well, kind of unnecessary.
Getting to the point, since alternative fuel conversion system certifications for “new” (2010 and after) vehicle models is needed only once now, what does this mean for the autogas industry going forward? More choices, more solutions, and most importantly, more clean-burning autogas vehicles on the road. We’d expect increased competition in the autogas industry and the after-market vehicle conversion sector as a whole – which isn’t a bad thing.
The EPA’s rule changes reduce the hurdles for getting certifications, which in turn increases availability of alternative fuel conversion systems. This, along with growing demand among fleets for alternative fuels due to higher gasoline and diesel prices, points to one probable conclusion: sure, any one company or solution provider might have to fight to keep their slice of the alternative fuel pie, but that pie is set to get a lot whole lot bigger for everyone.