Can switching to a propane-powered pickup save you money?

Updated Mar 19, 2013


Our sister publication Pro Pickup has a pretty interesting article from the folks at Roush CleanTech on how switching from gas or diesel to propane as your pickup fuel of choice can save you money.

At the moment, only 270,000 vehicles in the U.S., including fleets, school buses, shuttle buses, trucks, vans, and taxis, are fueled by propane. However, because it is considered a clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act of 1990, propane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for various federal tax incentives and programs.

The next savings incentive, according to Roush, is that "propane offers more energy per unit mass and has a higher octane rating than gasoline." But here’s where it gets a bit tricky. Because of the lower British thermal unit (btu) content of propane compared to gasoline, propane provides slightly lower fuel economy than gas because it takes more propane to create the same amount of power.

That being said, Roush says propane makes up for the difference in fuel economy in the savings generated from lower maintenance costs. "Many propane autogas vehicle fleets have reported two to three years longer service life and extended intervals between required maintenance when compared to their gasoline vehicles," according to the article. "The cleaner burning nature of propane and the lack of carbon build up in the engines leads to this unique benefit of propane autogas."

Of course, don’t forget the cost of converting your pickup(s) to propane. Roush doesn’t go into the exact cost, but does detail two types of installs for pickups. Dedicated pickups operate solely on propane and can be converted from gas truck and delivered directly from select manufacturers. Then there are dual-fuel pickups which can run on both gas and propane. The install is done by a certified technician.