Oregon Beverage Fleet Sees Savings with Propane Autogas


Seven months after converting 10 cargo vans from gasoline to propane autogas, General Distributors Inc. reports those vehicles have cut the company's greenhouse gas emissions by over 20% and saved an estimated $10,000 in fuel costs, according to Blue Star Gas.

General Distributors distributes beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages to taverns, gasoline stations and grocery stores in 11 Oregon counties. The company currently operates 50 cargo vans, 40 run on gasoline and the remaining 10 on propane autogas, each traveling 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year.

“Cost savings and longevity both influenced our decision to switch to propane,” states Don Lewis, CFO of General Distributors. “With the low cost of propane autogas, we'll see payback from our conversion to propane in less than three years.”

Blue Star Gas, a full-service propane distribution company, says it installed a 1,000-gallon, on-site autogas fueling tank for General Distributors and converted 10 Chevrolet Express one-ton cargo vans to autogas with Prins fuel systems. Blue Star Gas notes it will assist with future autogas vehicle conversions and provide ongoing safety training and technical support.

According to Darren Engle, director of government relations for Blue Star Gas, adding more alternative fuels to Oregon fleets will help meet the state's clean air goals.

“Although Oregon has made adopting cleaner alternative fuels a priority, companies need to ensure their decision makes good business sense,” says Engle. “Propane autogas offers low entry and infrastructure costs, a quick [return on investment] and proven emissions reductions. It will continue to be a very competitive alternative fuel selection for Northwest fleets.”

Blue Star says performance is another major factor that fleet managers consider. General Distributors was no exception, with drivers initially concerned about consistency in acceleration and power.

“Despite some initial questions, our drivers reported no difference between the propane-autogas-powered vehicles' performance and the gasoline-fueled vehicles,” explains Lewis. “There's no loss in horsepower, we know it's better for the environment, and we're saving money.”

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