Exploring Propane as a Fleet Fuel Source

propane-perc-__-720x480-mc.png

In an environment with rising gasoline prices, propane could offer a viable option for fleet managers looking for an alternative-fuel source. 

There’s a misconception that propane autogas is more expensive than traditional fuels, noted Michael Taylor, director of autogas development for the Propane Education & Research Council.

But, the actual cost of wholesale propane typically falls between the price of oil and natural gas — the two sources of propane, he added.

In the first week of May 2019, the national average price per gallon of propane autogas was $1.45. The national average cost of regular grade gasoline was $2.86.

“There is a small segment of the fleet industry who may have tried propane autogas years ago and wasn’t pleased with the performance,” said Taylor. “Over the past decade [there have been] dramatic improvements in propane engine and fuel system technologies.”

Total Cost of Ownership for a Propane Vehicle

Fleets with light- or medium-duty trucks, delivery vans, sedans, shuttle busses, and school busses are all viable candidates for propane autogas, noted Taylor.

In order to use propane as a fuel source, fleets need to first modify their vehicles’ engines through the use of an EPA or CARB-certified conversion kit.

This presents the biggest hurdle in terms of total cost of ownership for a fleet considering a conversion to propane. The cost to convert a vehicle to accept propane autogas ranges between $6,000 and $12,000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

This initial cost is eventually offset through a fuel source that can cost between 30% and 50% less than gasoline, Taylor noted.

However, fuel economy for a propane-powered vehicle does tend to be lower than gasoline vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. On average, propane-powered vehicles see 5-10% lower miles per gallon than their gasoline alternatives, Taylor noted.

This hit to fuel economy, however; is offset by the considerably lower fueling costs. 

Propane’s high octane rating — around 106 compared to gasoline’s 87-93 — along with its low-carbon and low-oil contamination characteristics leads to improved engine life compared to gasoline engines, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The comparatively cleaner fuel typically leads to lower maintenance costs as well. 

When it comes time to retire the vehicle from a company’s fleet, fleet owners have several options in terms of how they can remarket their propane vehicles.

A fleet manager can remarket their propane vehicles as-is, as there are buyers who are looking for vehicles already equipped with propane conversion kits.

“Dependent upon the vehicle’s age and mileage, some buyers will choose to deploy the propane autogas vehicles into their operation while other buyers may choose to remove the high-value components which can be remanufactured and sold as aftermarket parts,” said Taylor. 

The inventory of propane trucks in the wholesale market is increasing and the number of buyers for used propane autogas trucks is increasing with it, according to Taylor.

Fleet managers remarketing their propane-converted vehicles can also choose to remove the propane autogas fuel system, reinstall the OEM gasoline fuel system, and remarket the vehicle as a gasoline truck, Taylor added.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

Original Article

Preventive Maintenance: Easier Than Performing Corrective Maintenance

In the case of an aged fleet, you may be struggling to keep buses road-worthy. Many shops are performing what I call “the corrective maintenance program,” meaning, if it isn’t broken, why spend time on it? They refuse to perform sufficient preventive maintenance (PM) to improve overall reliability. Buses continue to break down because components that should have been repaired or replaced some time ago are now beyond useful life.

People are converting old school buses into Skoolies and hitting the road

The number of people purchasing old school buses and converting them into mobile tiny homes has steadily increased with individuals and families giving up traditional homes. We have collected a few of our favorite bus conversion stories to share with you and when you are ready we can help find the old school bus of your dreams to convert into your very own skoolie.

Links to skoolie stories:

Couple buys a big old school bus to realize their dream of living tiny

8 Amazing Skoolies

Tusk the Blue Bird School Bus Conversion

Family happier than ever living in bus, traveling US, after leaving corporate America

Tell Congress to Include Propane Infrastructure in S. 674

logo-Propane-Symbol.png

LEGISLATIVE ALERT – Tell Congress to Include Propane Infrastructure in S. 674

Electric and hydrogen infrastructure is receiving preferential treatment in recently introduced legislation – so tell Congress to not play favorites and provide opportunities for all alternative fuels, including propane.

The National Alternative Fuel Corridors program, which was created through the FAST Act in 2015, ordered the Federal Highway Administration to create interstate highway corridors with appropriate signage for alternative fueling stations. The corridors included four alternative fuels: electricity (battery electric vehicles), hydrogen, propane, and natural gas.

Recently, Senator Tom Carper introduced S. 674, the “Clean Corridors Act of 2019.” Among other things, this bill would create grant funding opportunities for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along the designated alternative fuel corridors. But under S. 674, propane would not be eligible for grant funding opportunities.  NPGA believes strongly that all fuels designated under Section 1413 of the FAST Act should qualify. 

Click here to send a message to your Congressional representatives today and tell them that propane and other fuels in the FAST Act are eligible for grant funding opportunities for the installation of alternative fueling infrastructure, including S. 674. Language in the bill is currently being considered, so we need you to send a message TODAY!

If you have any questions, please contact NPGA’s Michael Baker at mbaker@npga.org.

Report: Using VW Money to Purchase Diesel Buses is a ‘Wasted Opportunity’

vwsettlement_pic.jpg

The nonprofit organizations U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center released the 20-page paper on Thursday. Both organizations refer to themselves as nonpartisan. U.S. PIRG identifies as a counterweight to special interest groups that “threaten our health, safety or well-being,” while Environment America researches and advocates in support of clean air and water.

The report ranks the effectiveness of Beneficiary Mitigation Plans that have been developed by all 50 states and D.C. The plans describe how each share of VW funds will be used to purchase eligible vehicles and infrastructure, namely electric, CNG, propane or diesel.

“Although technically allowable under the settlement, for states to spend this money on outdated diesel or other fossil fuel technology would be a wasted opportunity,” wrote authors Matt Casale and Brendan Murphy of U.S. PIRG.

States are ranked using eight criteria, ranging from prioritization of purchasing electric vehicles, to funding allocated for diesel.

Hawaii and Washington received “A+” scores for planning to use all funds to purchase electric buses and charging infrastructure. Rhode Island received an “A” for prohibiting any diesel bus purchases. Vermont also received an “A” for allocating a small amount of funds to diesel.

Only 11 other states received passing grades of “C” or better.

That left 21 states and D.C. with poor “D” grades for failing to prioritize electric vehicle investment in funding or their state goals, according to U.S. PIRG. Fourteen states and Puerto Rico received an “F” for adopting the minimum guidelines for the spending allotment and failing to prioritize any electric projects. The authors said states with failing grades could allow for up to 100 percent of their awards to go toward new diesel purchases.

“Climate change is a health emergency for our families and our communities,” concluded Morgan Folger, director of Environment America Research & Policy Center Clean Cars Campaign. “States have the unique opportunity to fund projects that will cut carbon pollution by electrifying our cars, trucks and buses. We all deserve clean air and a stable climate, so we should make the most of the Volkswagen settlement money and accelerate electrification.”

But diesel continues to dominate the large school bus market, despite inroads made over the past few years by propane. According to a survey of school bus manufacturer last fall, the number of new diesel vehicle builds outpaced propane by nearly 11 to 1 for the manufacturing period of Nov. 1, 2017 through Oct. 31, 2018.

CNG and electric school buses registered mere blips on the school bus radar. Combined, the two accounted for not quite 2 percent of all buses manufactured.

“Forecasters seem to agree that, for the next five to 15 years and beyond, diesel will remain the primary technology for commercial trucking, thanks to its unique combination of features,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) at the Fuels Institute annual meeting this week in Dallas.

Schaeffer asked, “Will there be some inroads made in niche fleets and operations using all electric, hybrid or hydrogen technologies? Yes, of course. Some of these technologies are in development and limited use today, as manufacturers are developing a range of fuels and technologies to best serve their customers. It’s safe to say we’ll also see an increasing use of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels, as well as the next-generation of diesel that is even nearer-to-zero emissions.”

DTF argues that active selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems that use diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) as a catalyst, along with diesel particulate filters (DPF) to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions by up to 90 percent, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by 50- to 90 percent and particulate matter emissions by over 90 percent.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, diesel fuel emits 161.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per million British thermal units, or BTUs, compared to 139 pounds from propane and 117 pounds from CNG.

The data does not reflect near-zero emissions now possible from propane systems that meet the 0.02 grams of NOx brake/horsepower per hour. And electric emits no emissions from the tailpipe. Still, electric vehicles have a carbon footprint when accounting for material mining, refining and manufacturing.

A recent study by Volkswagen found that where diesel performs better is in the production phase. Battery production and raw material extraction for its e-Golf passenger car resulted in 96.55 percent more carbon dioxide emissions than for its Golf TDI (29 g CO2/km versus 57 g CO2/km).

Still, VW concluded that the e-Golf emits 15 percent less CO2 over the entire lifecycle than the Golf TDI (119 g CO2/km versus 140 g CO2/km). The e-Golf also emitted over 44 percent less CO2 (111 g CO2/km) during the use phase than its diesel counterpart (140 g CO2/km). “It is evident that in the vehicle with an internal combustion engine, most of the emissions occur during the use phase, that is, in the supply chain of the fossil fuel and the combustion,” the report found.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $85 Million Funding Opportunity for Technologically Advanced Transit Buses

2014-05-13 09.46.29 copy.jpg

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the opportunity for eligible applicants to apply for up to $85 million in competitive grant funds through FTA’s Low or No Emission (Low-No) Bus Program.  The Low-No Program helps project sponsors purchase or lease low or no emission vehicles that use advanced technologies for transit revenue operations, including related equipment or facilities.

Instructions for applying can be found on FTA’s website at http://transit.dot.gov/howtoapply and in the “FIND” module of GRANTS.GOV.  The funding opportunity ID is FTA-2019-002-TPM-LowNo. Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the GRANTS.GOV “APPLY” function by May 14, 2019

View our FDOT contract and vehicles:

http://www.fts4buses.com/fdot-vehicles

For more information, please see the following links:

Low or No Emission Bus Program Announcement
Low or No Emission (Low-No) Bus Program
How to Apply

3 Reasons to Switch a Bus Fleet to Propane Autogas

2013 - 19 Passenger Micro Bird Propane Interior Luggage - FTS Stock   Contact FTS for more information on the propane commercial bus.

2013 - 19 Passenger Micro Bird Propane Interior Luggage - FTS Stock

Contact FTS for more information on the propane commercial bus.

As more bus fleets look for ways to lower emissions and comply with government regulations, many are turning to propane autogas as a proven, clean alternative fuel. Not only are propane autogas buses better for the environment than traditional fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, but they are also better on a bus fleet’s budget and provide the convenience fleet managers are accustomed to with traditional fuels.

With an engine that thrives in the winter, a customizable refueling strategy and minimal, if any, updates to garaging facilities, propane autogas buses provide fleet owners with a smooth transition to an alternative fuel while offering the lowest total cost-of-ownership over the lifetime of the vehicle. Bus fleets making the switch all over the country are discovering these three, of many, reasons why propane autogas is the right fuel for them.

Winter Maintenance

Propane autogas buses love cold weather and have no issues with the elements, making the fuel more affordable to operate. In cold temperatures, diesel buses can be rendered inoperable, requiring owners to tether their vehicles to engine block heaters for hours with no assurance the vehicle will crank when needed. In most regions, diesel buses require fuel conditioners to address fuel gelling issues, creating an additional maintenance cost. If these conditioners are not used, the buses can break down and need to be taken out of service. Propane autogas engines provide reliable performance, regardless of the temperature, and they don’t require added fluids or engine block heaters, saving bus fleets from additional costs every winter.

Because propane autogas vehicles start up immediately, bus fleets also do not need to worry about scheduling overtime for drivers and maintenance professionals to start up buses before they’re needed, as is the case with diesel. Not to mention, heat is supplied to cabs much faster than in a diesel vehicle. This allows drivers to focus on the road and gives passengers a safe and warm ride to their destination. This can contribute to increased driver retention and greater overall job satisfaction. In interviews conducted by the Propane Education & Research Council, bus drivers report the vehicles are cleaner, quieter, and easier to operate than diesel buses.

Customized Refueling Options

No two bus fleets are alike, so it is no surprise that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for refueling. Fortunately, propane autogas refueling infrastructure is affordable and scalable. Bus fleet managers can choose from multiple propane autogas refueling solutions that allow them to create a custom designed program that specifically fits their needs:

  • On-site refueling solutions are recommended for fleets both small and large that require a centralized refueling station. Site preparation is minimal and similar to what many fleets already have in place, including a level area for vehicle refueling, crash protection, and an electrical supply for the pump and dispensers. Bus fleets have the option to own fuel tanks and dispensers or lease them from a propane supplier. Both options allow for infrastructure to easily expand with the growth of the fleet.

  • A fuel storage tank, pump, and dispenser mounted on a trailer provides a convenient temporary refueling solution for bus fleets in the process of installing permanent infrastructure. Replenishing the fuel storage tank is scheduled with the propane supplier.

  • For bus fleets that do not have plans to install infrastructure, mobile refueling is a viable solution. In this scenario, the bus fleet’s propane supplier works with the customer to create a customized plan for refueling the vehicles on-site with a bobtail delivery truck. 

In many cases, bus fleet managers can secure an annual or long-term fuel contract with their propane autogas supplier, locking in the price of the fuel regardless of fluctuations. Propane suppliers and infrastructure providers will work with you to determine the best refueling strategy for your bus fleet.

Maintenance and Garaging Facilities

In most cases, existing maintenance and garaging facilities will not require costly infrastructure changes during a transition to propane autogas. This is a stark contrast to many other alternative fuels like CNG and EVs. If existing buildings are code compliant for diesel and gasoline, typically there are often no infrastructure changes required for propane autogas. Ventilation requirements for propane autogas are the same as those for gasoline and diesel, and there are no specific modifications necessary to meet gas detection, sources of ignition, and electrical requirements. Segregation of major and minor repairs is not required either.

Bus facility managers should always check with their local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), though, which may have different codes than those set by the National Fire Protection Association, International Building Code, and National Electric Code.

Incorporating propane autogas into a fleet doesn’t take a lot of work, from the garaging requirements to affordable refueling infrastructure. Once it’s up and running, bus fleet owners quickly see why propane autogas boasts the lowest total cost-of-ownership among any fleet vehicle fuel available. These benefits are all major reasons why so many bus fleets are making the transition to propane autogas. 

Contract with the Florida Department of Transportation’s TRIPS Program

Photo Jan 29, 10 35 16 AM.png


                FTS is pleased to announce we have been awarded a Contract with the Florida Department of Transportation’s TRIPS Program to sell the ENC EZ Rider II Low Floor Heavy Duty Bus. The EZ Rider II offers operators the highest capacity and the widest variety of options available in the market. Available with Cummins Diesel or Compressed Natural Gas, the EZ-Rider II also offers front or center door ramps, a transit style air conditioning compressor, multiple floor plan configurations and a maintenance friendly design to ensure a longer life and lower maintenance costs than our competition. For more information on the EZ Rider II, Contract TRIPS-17-MD-FTS or to schedule a demo, please contact Robert Frick rfrick@fts4buses.com or call (800) 282 – 8617.  

2018 Blue Bird Experience

 On May 11, 2018 FTS hosted The 2018 Blue Bird Experience Ride & Drive Event at Marchant Field in Lakeland, Florida. The Experience gave attendees the chance to gain key knowledge to advance their school district's potential and to find new ways to increase safety and put more money back into the classrooms. 

The event included in-person demos, ride and drives, exhibits, vendor showcase and technology orientation sessions. With vendors like Bendix, Cummins, Roush, Blue Bird and more there was plenty of new technologies to view. 

During this event Blue Bird debuted the new Electric School Bus along with a Propane, Gas, CNG and Diesel school bus. Also included in this event was the Bendix Stability Control demonstration (see video below). 

27409485417_da182b155a_z.jpg

Blue Bird Now Taking Orders For Electric School Buses To Be Delivered In 2018

Blue Bird has begun taking orders for its new electric Type C & D configuration school buses! The company is reportedly the only one in the US currently offering such configurations.

The electric school buses that are ordered as of right now will reportedly be delivered before the end of 2018. The buses have reportedly already finished certification testing and are being delivered.

The CEO and President of Blue Bird Corporation, Phil Horlock, commented on the news: “Our electric buses have received an Executive Order from the California Air Resources Board and both HVIP and TVIP listing, which qualify Blue Bird’s electric buses for grants available in California and New York, respectively. That’s great news for our customers and following our Ride & Drives in California, we are already receiving orders from school districts.”

As some further background here, it’s worth noting that the powertrain utilized in the new Blue Bird electric school buses was developed in partnership with EDI and Adomani, so the quality should be quite high. To be a bit more specific, the school buses feature the EDI PowerDrive 7000 EV drivetrain system (for more on that see: Electric Semi Trucks & Heavy-Duty Trucks — Available Models & Planned Models), a variant on a drivetrain solution that has now tallied over 2.5 million miles of commercial fleet operation around the world.

That being the case, durability and reliability shouldn’t be an issue, and there’s a fair likelihood that the Blue Bird buses will actually prove themselves to be more reliable than the diesel school buses which they will be replacing, while at the same time cutting the diesel emissions exposure of those riding and driving the buses.

As far as range goes, the 160 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery-packs should allow for the easy meeting of operational requirements, with the real-world range expectations being 100-120 miles per full-charge. These battery packs are backed by a limited seven-year battery warranty, reportedly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contract with the Florida Department of Transportation’s TRIPS Program

E-Z Rider II 32' demo (11-2016) #9.jpg


                FTS is pleased to announce we have been awarded a Contract with the Florida Department of Transportation’s TRIPS Program to sell the ENC EZ Rider II Low Floor Heavy Duty Bus. The EZ Rider II offers operators the highest capacity and the widest variety of options available in the market. Available with Cummins Diesel or Compressed Natural Gas, the EZ-Rider II also offers front or center door ramps, a transit style air conditioning compressor, multiple floor plan configurations and a maintenance friendly design to ensure a longer life and lower maintenance costs than our competition. For more information on the EZ Rider II, Contract TRIPS-17-MD-FTS or to schedule a demo, please contact Robert Frick rfrick@fts4buses.com or call (800) 282 – 8617.  

Introducing the All-New BraunAbility Dodge Simple Stow™ Infloor

The all-new Dodge Simple Stow Infloor is a cost-effective, ADA compliant conversion that allows operators to easily and safely accommodate both wheelchair and ambulatory passengers. This application features a manual infloor ramp with a stow/deploy handle for easy operation.

The all-new Dodge Simple Stow Infloor is a cost-effective, ADA compliant conversion that allows operators to easily and safely accommodate both wheelchair and ambulatory passengers. This application features a manual infloor ramp with a stow/deploy handle for easy operation.

Click on this video to view a product demonstration: 

Click on the links below to learn more

 

 

DIESEL AND PROPANE AND GAS, OH MY!

One of the most important decisions regarding a bus purchase is the type of fuel to choose. There is a lot of conflicting information out there today...those that say alternative fuels are not worth pursuing, or that diesel is going the way of the dinosaur. The fact of the matter is, each fleet may operate a different fuel type in order to achieve their best total cost of ownership, or TCO. 

Hundreds of Stakeholders Urge Congress to Renew Alt-Fuel Tax Credit

Hundreds of Stakeholders Urge Congress to Renew Alt-Fuel Tax Credit

More than 300 organizations representing users, retailers, customers, fleet managers, utilities, and producers of clean alternative fuels, including natural gas and propane, have signed a letter urging Congress to reinstate the $0.50/gallon alternative fuels tax credit (AFTC). The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and NGVAmerica helped spearhead the effort.

Fla.'s JTA opens test track for future self-driving transit shuttles

Fla.'s JTA opens test track for future self-driving transit shuttles

The self-driving vehicle starts moving as silently as the computer that operates it and the electric battery that powers it. There is none of the hiss that accompanies a train on electrified rails.This transit vehicle runs on rubber tires and pavement as it glides down a test track opened Wednesday by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.