More than 13,000 propane autogas fleet vehicles were sold in 2017, according to data compiled by the Propane Education & Research Council. The new vehicles will annually consume approximately 36.8 million gallons of clean propane autogas, and many will be displacing fuels with higher emissions like gasoline and diesel.
While the 13,045 propane autogas vehicles sold in 2017 were down slightly from the previous year (14,045 were sold in 2016), the relatively flat sales are actually signaling to industry officials that more propane autogas growth is around the corner.
“Propane autogas overcame significant challenges in 2017 — from the absence of federal incentives for alternative fuels from the federal government, to incredibly low gasoline and diesel prices throughout much of the year — and we received an overwhelming endorsement for our fuel in all markets. Propane autogas sales virtually held steady in a year where the conventional fuels held all of the advantages,” said Michael Taylor, director of autogas business development for PERC. “Looking ahead, our forecasts indicate there’s a lot to be optimistic about thanks to a variety of opportunities that will help increase propane autogas vehicle sales in 2018 and beyond.”
Opportunities helping to propel propane autogas sales in the near term include new OEM solutions (both standard and optional equipment packages) for medium- and heavy-duty truck applications, which will impact numerous applications and vocations. PERC funded its first propane hybrid for light-duty vehicles in 2017 and it continues to investigate the technology. Additional aftermarket EPA and CARB certifications will be added in 2018, too.
These new vehicle solutions are expected to not only increase sales, but also balance out OEM-dedicated propane autogas fleet vehicle sales with aftermarket conversions sales. In 2017, 68% of all propane autogas fleet sales were aftermarket conversions, but that is expected to be reduced to approximately 55% by 2021 as more OEM-dedicated vehicles become available.