Propane Autogas is Helping USPS Fleet Operations

November 30, 2023

Image courtesy of Roush Clean Tech.

In the relentless pursuit of environmentally responsible transportation solutions, fleet managers often find themselves at a crossroads, balancing the need for sustainability with practicality. For one United States Postal Service (USPS) supplier, the answer came in the form of propane autogas.

With a fleet of over 160 vehicles, New Hampshire-based DDA Transport recognized the importance of reducing its carbon footprint. However, company leadership needed to find a solution that wouldn’t burden them with infrastructure constraints or costly maintenance. That’s when they discovered propane autogas.

”We learned about propane autogas at an NSRMCA convention,” said Dwayne Andreasen, president of DDA Transport. “It seemed to check all the boxes that we were searching for.”

In August 2023, DDA Transport introduced six propane straight trucks to its fleet, joining a growing number of USPS mail contractors that trust propane vehicles to reliably deliver the mail across the country.

Alt Fuel Benefits

Propane autogas — a leading alternative fuel in the world with 27 million vehicles — is a nontoxic, non-carcinogenic and non-corrosive fuel. The fuel is made domestically, making it readily abundant and cost-effective for fleet operators in the United States.

When compared to diesel, vehicles fueled by propane autogas lower the total cost of ownership by saving on fuel, fluids and filters. DDA Transport’s diesel fuel prices currently stand at $4.49 per gallon, while propane is $1.65 per gallon. Additionally, the fuel’s composition is so clean that oil changes are less costly and complex, and propane vehicles eliminate the need for additional components like diesel particulate filters, EGR coolers and an array of SCR parts.

The company anticipates saving $25,000 in fuel spending and up to an additional $15,000 in maintenance and uptime costs for each truck annually. Andreasen says they plan to use the cost savings to add more propane vehicles to their fleet.

DDA Transport didn’t rely on external funding or grants to purchase their propane vehicles, although funding is available. ROUSH CleanTech’s propane engines are 90% cleaner in NOx than current federal emissions standards and virtually eliminate particulate matter, making them eligible for many federal and state funding programs.

Preparing for Propane

To ensure a smooth transition to propane autogas, the company’s technicians received comprehensive training and support from ROUSH CleanTech. Standard diagnostic equipment can be used to service propane vehicles, and requirements for a propane vehicle repair facility are generally the same as those for conventionally fueled vehicles, helping keep costs low during adoption.

For fueling, the company chose to work with Ferrellgas to install an onsite propane station. “We need onsite fueling because our trucks run on very strict schedules and are typically running from the early morning hours until the late evening,” said Andreasen. “Ferrellgas not only provided the fuel but also worked out a cost-effective solution by incorporating a fueling station into a long-term fuel contract.”

Onsite propane autogas fueling infrastructure costs less than any other transportation energy source — conventional or alternative. However, there are thousands of propane autogas fueling stations in the United States, with stations in every state.

DDA’s delivery trucks travel 75,000 and 90,000 miles per year. Thus far, the drivers have praised the propane trucks for their smooth ride and quieter operation. “The propane trucks have a little less torque and power than our diesel trucks, but so far this has not been a prohibiting factor,” said Andreasen. “And operating in New England with frigid winters, we are looking forward to our propane trucks starting and running in the cold without fuel gel issues.”

Future and Insights

Looking ahead, the company envisions adding more Class 6 propane trucks to their fleet. Their goal is to achieve a 50/50 mix between diesel and propane autogas within the next few years.

“​​As a supplier to the US Postal Service we are continually striving to find ways to protect the environment through sustainability efforts,” says Andreasen. “Our fuel consumption is our biggest environmental concern, so the ability to lower this impact through propane autogas helps us achieve our short- and long-term goals.”

Fleets looking to meet or exceed the upcoming 2027 emissions standards can reference DDA Transport’s approach to beginning the process early, taking incremental steps toward creating a fleet made up of low- and near-zero emission vehicles.

Andreasen’s advice for other fleets is to “look at your operation and decide if you are interested in working toward climate change while saving fuel expense and maintenance expense. If so, then you should consider propane autogas as an option.”

In an era where environmental consciousness and cost-effectiveness go hand-in-hand, the adoption of propane autogas is proving to be a win-win solution. release courtesy of Roush CleanTech.