Wilson touts the benefits of propane vehicles1/3/2013
Wilson Fuel Co. Ltd. has partnered with Alliance AutoGas in the United States to convert gasoline vehicles to propane.
Atlantic Canada’s largest independent fuel retailer is targeting large vehicle fleets like police forces, courier services and taxi companies for the lower-cost fuel option.
Gary Highfield, general manager at Wilsons, said using propane can cut fuel costs by 40 per cent.
“You can save about $2,000 to $3,000 a year per vehicle, plus reduce your emissions by 20 to 25 per cent on top of that,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
“It’s not just dollar savings, it’s a greener alternative. Propane is practically as clean as natural gas.”
Converting a vehicle costs $2,500 to $4,000, depending on the vehicle and the size of the tank, Highfield said.
“You’re looking at a one- to two-year payback.”
He said companies must pay to convert their own fleets of vehicles. However, Wilsons will foot the bill to set up propane refuelling stations in exchange for being the exclusive propane supplier.
Highfield said the fuel company partnered with Alliance for its expertise, knowledge of the market and brand recognition.
“We joined Alliance AutoGas because it’s the most reliable program to help fleets switch to (propane) autogas. It’s the most viable fuel on the market for fleets because it’s clean, it costs less than gasoline and installing autogas fuelling stations is not expensive.”
Highfield said all the vehicles will continue to have regular gasoline tanks that will kick in automatically if the propane is not refilled. Also, once a vehicle reaches the end of its usefulness, the propane tank can be removed and installed in a new vehicle.
Wilsons is converting two of its own vehicles and plans to eventually run its entire fleet on propane.
Although still in the preliminary stages, the company is planning to launch a pilot project using Truro’s police force.
“If we receive approval, our plan would be to convert the fleet to propane this summer,” Highfield said. “We’d order the conversion kits, have the vehicles switched to propane and put in refuelling infrastructure.”
He said the conversion work would be done by a trained third party.
“We’re not looking for our staff to do the conversions, that’s an auto shop-type activity. We’d rather let others partake in that and focus on selling propane.”
Alliance, a network of propane marketers and conversion centres that is based in North Carolina, guides fleets through every aspect of switching to autogas, including vehicle conversions, fuelling, on-site fuel station installation, data integration, training and ongoing technical support.
Propane autogas is the most widely used alternative fuel worldwide, powering 18 million vehicles, according to Alliance.
“The addition of Canadian partners like Wilsons plays a key role in the continuing international expansion of the Alliance AutoGas network,” Alliance president Stuart Weidie said in a news release.
(The Chronicle Herald)