In the past decade, use of propane-powered mowers as an alternative to gasoline and diesel mowers has grown. Once used by a relatively small number of landscape contractors, propane powered more than 27,000 mowers across the U.S. at the start of this cutting season. The fuel is a proven alternative for lower costs, reduced emissions, and increased productivity. But landscapers may not realize there’s another way to take advantage of propane’s benefits beyond their mower fleet — with propane autogas vehicles.
Propane autogas has been used for decades and is the third most common vehicle fuel in the world (behind gasoline and diesel). For landscape contractors, propane autogas vehicles can provide real value to bottom lines for many of the same reasons as propane mowers, including reduced fuel costs, multiple options for makes and models, and appeal to green-minded customers.
Cost-Effective & Efficient
Landscapers may not realize how much fueling costs of light-duty trucks can impact their business. On average, propane autogas costs between 30% and 50% less per gallon than gasoline and diesel. The price of propane traditionally falls between the prices of natural gas and oil, which greatly limits market price fluctuations. Gasoline and diesel often have more pronounced price in a given season.
With prices for regular octane gasoline rising above $2.80 for much of the country, based on recent AAA reports, propane’s better cost consistency can be a major advantage in planning budgets for a season. Contractors can further protect themselves from fuel fluctuations by establishing a fuel contract with a propane supplier, which holds the price per gallon for a set period of time.
Using both propane for vehicles and mowers can compound fuel savings and may simplify refueling by limiting the need for crews to spend downtime at neighborhood refueling stations. Contractors can work with a propane supplier to ensure fuel is always available on site through propane’s flexible refueling options.
Model Variety & Versatility
Vehicles used by landscape contractors don’t typically have just one job. Trucks may be used to carry materials for landscape design, haul trailers full of turf maintenance equipment, or be mounted with plows and spreaders. Vans may transport crews and light equipment from site to site. Contractors can purchase propane autogas-dedicated vehicles directly from manufacturers that offer the fuel as an option. It’s also likely there’s an EPA- or CARB-certified propane autogas conversion kit that can meet the multi-purpose needs of a contractor’s fleet.
A number of popular light- and medium-duty trucks and vans can be converted by OEMs or through certified aftermarket kits. This including chassis models upfitted with dump bodies, cranes, or box options for hardscaping operations. Multiple conversion kit partners are also available across the U.S. to assist with converting existing fleets to propane autogas.
Additionally, contractors with a wide service area where trucks frequently drive beyond the range of a single tank fill may see benefits from using certified propane autogas bi-fuel vehicles. These bi-fuel systems allow operators to choose either propane autogas or gasoline as the primary fuel. This freedom of choice eliminates “range anxiety” that crews might not find a propane autogas refueling station (or return to a contractor’s refueling station) before running out. It can even extend the total range of travel before refueling when both propane autogas and gasoline are used.
As sustainable and environmentally-friendly services continue to grow, use of propane autogas can help contractors reach new, green-minded customers. Like propane mowers, propane autogas vehicles produce fewer emissions compared to gasoline and diesel vehicles. Thus, it can help contractors position their company as a green alternative to surrounding competition.
Propane autogas vehicles can produce up to 22% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline vehicles throughout the full fuel cycle. In some cases, this emissions reduction is more significant than emissions reductions from compressed natural gas vehicles. Compared to diesel vehicles, propane autogas vehicles can emit up to 36% fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, as well.
For more information on how propane autogas can work in landscape and turf maintenance operations, visit Propane.com/Propane-One-Fuel-Solution.