How to Choose an Alternative Fuel for Your Fleet

As regulations, technology and industry conversations reflect, a trend in fleet management is fleet sustainability. Members of the Fleetio team recently visited The Work Truck Show 2018 (WTS18) and 2018 Vehicle Maintenance Management Conference (VMMC) where many fleet leaders were discussing the transition to alternative fuels. According to senior managers from Mercury Associates, Inc. in one WTS18 session, “going green is now a necessity.”

fuel-station

Instead of waiting for a corporate mandate calling for alternative fuels, leaders like Senior Manager Tony Yankovich and Senior Consultant Marc Canton from Mercury Associates, Inc. recommend getting out in front of it.

This will allow you to avoid “forced” transitions that don’t suit your fleet needs, create and execute a plan smoothly and allow adequate time for updates like infrastructure changes.

As industry experts like Mercury Associates and Darren Engle of Blue Star Gas outlined at WTS18 and 2018 VMMC, fleet managers should consider these pros and cons of the different alternative fuels.

Biodiesel

Pros

  • Great for Class 5 through Class 8 vehicles
  • Usually no vehicle alterations necessary
  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with government incentives compared to gasoline
  • Little to no loss in MPG compared to diesel
  • High availability in most regions, with most vendors
  • Reduction in carbon emissions

Cons

  • Loss of 5 to 7 percent of maximum power output with B100
  • Higher lubricity of biodiesel can clog fuel filters more often
  • Gels at warmer temperatures than diesel

Flex Fuel or E85

Pros

  • No vehicle alterations necessary
  • High availability in most regions, with most vendors
  • Reduction in carbon emissions compared to gasoline

Cons

  • Loss in miles per gallon compared to gasoline by 15 to 27 percent
  • Requires more fillups
  • Offsets emission gains
  • Makes TCO more costly in some applications

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

Pros

  • Great for Class 5 through Class 8 vehicles
  • No loss in MPG compared to gasoline
  • Less expensive than gasoline
  • Reduction in carbon emissions

Cons

  • Vehicle alterations required ranging from $15,000 - $25,000
  • Reduced usability due to lost space with tank
  • Shorter driving range
  • Distribution infrastructure lacking
  • Higher infrastructure cost of $400,000 to $1.2 million
  • In-house fuel stations require significant investment

Propane

Pros

  • Great for Class 2 through Class 6 vehicles
  • Considered a “slide-in” fuel because minimal change is necessary to convert vehicles and existing infrastructure
  • Lower fuel costs—consistently 40 percent less than gas over the last 18 years
  • Standard fueling time
  • Half of carbon emissions compared to gasoline

Cons

  • Vehicle conversion cost of $7,000

Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids

Pros

  • Greater MPG
  • Longer driving range
  • Lower TCO
  • Reduction in carbon emissions

Cons

  • Predominantly available in smaller vehicles; larger vehicles increase acquisition cost
  • Reduced torque and horsepower compared to gasoline vehicles
  • Vehicle alterations often required with upfits which can reduce vehicle utility

Electric Vehicles

Pros

  • Great for Class 1 and 2 vehicles
  • Low infrastructure cost: $4,000 - $10,000
  • Opportunity for tech upgrades like solar panel roof
  • No vehicle emissions

Cons

  • Higher conversion cost: $50k to $125k
  • Limited range: 70 to 100 miles
  • Battery technology still developing
  • Recharging time can range from two to eight hours depending on the charge level
  • Infrastructure lacking but making gains

No matter what type of fuel you use, keep track of it all in our fleet maintenance software. Start a free 14-day trial today.


Jessie Robinson

Content Marketing Specialist

Jessie Robinson is a Content Marketing Specialist at Fleetio, and is passionate about the future of green transportation technology and french fries.

comments powered by Disqus