Alternative fuel vehicles offer many benefits for fleets, including lower fuel costs and reduced emissions. However, the up-front cost of fueling infrastructure and vehicle conversions remains a hurdle for many fleets. So, what’s your best bet for a timely return on investment when it comes to clean fuel technology? Let’s take a look at the usual suspects:
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
CNG is a domestically produced fuel that’s cheaper and burns cleaner than gasoline. The lower per-gallon price of CNG makes it an attractive option for many fleets. However, CNG vehicles only achieve about 60 percent of the range of gasoline vehicles, meaning more fill-ups, more vehicle down-time and more money down the drain. Not to mention the high up-front cost of converting the vehicles in the first place, which ranges anywhere between $12,000—$18,000 for light-duty vehicles.
But it’s the fueling station cost that really puts CNG out of reach for many American fleets. According to the DOE, a small, fast-fill CNG station costs about $400,000. Need a medium or large CNG station for your fleet? That’s probably going to run you between $600,000 and a cool $1.7 mil.
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
The electric vehicle industry faces many challenges, from a questionable environmental record (*cough*coal*cough*) to fears that EVs could eventually overburden the electric grid. But one of the biggest strikes against EVs is their high price tag. Not only are the vehicles themselves prohibitively expensive, EV batteries remain one of the most expensive after-warranty parts of the vehicle to replace, with an estimated cost of anywhere from $8,000—$18,000. And with reduced driving range and limited carrying capacity, EV technology is simply impractical for American fleets.
Propane Autogas (You knew we’d get to it, right?)
Autogas is the most immediately available, affordable alternative fuel technology on the market today. Like CNG, autogas costs less per gallon than gasoline, significantly reduces emissions and 90 percent of the U.S. supply is made in America. The lower up-front cost for getting a fleet up and running on autogas is what really sets it apart as a more viable clean fuel. For the price of one CNG station, you can build 10 autogas fueling stations; and two light-duty propane autogas vehicles can be converted for the price of one natural gas-powered vehicle. The Alliance AutoGas complete program will even install a home-base autogas fuel station at no up-front cost, meaning fleets can start saving immediately after switching to autogas.
Visit www.autogasforamerica.org for a wealth of information (which we shamelessly mined for this post) on the benefits of running fleets on affordable, American-made propane autogas.