The Worst Advice about Alternative Fuels

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By Joe Thompson,

Roush CleanTech


When it comes to the use of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles, folks are often quick to offer their opinion. Here’s a breakdown of the top five worst pieces of advice I’ve heard when it comes to considering alternative fuels.

1. Compare miles per gallon.

MPG is an ineffective measurement because alternative fuels don’t burn at the same rate as gasoline or diesel. Instead, focus on cost per mile and track the savings against your current gasoline or diesel solution. This will provide an “apples to apples” comparison between all the fuels — that’ll give you a true reading of your total cost of ownership of the vehicle. Remember, it’s all about total cost of ownership, not simply miles per gallon.

2. You must install expensive private refueling stations.

With fueling stations in every state and thousands across the country, alternatives like propane autogas provide a strong network of public refueling infrastructure for fleets without private stations. Also, if private refueling is desired, installing a propane autogas station costs less than any other fueling station, including gasoline or diesel.

Other alternative fuels infrastructure is growing each year. Visit and click on Fueling infrastructure to see the networks in your state.

3. Alternative fuels don’t perform well in cold weather.

During last winter’s polar vortex, Blue Bird Corporation had alternative fuel buses that provided easy starting, heat within minutes, quiet operation, and no performance issues in weather as cold as -27 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see for yourself how well the buses at Student Transportation of America in Omaha started last winter in a news program on ABC-affiliate TV channel 7 here. During that same time period, the diesel buses had to be started and warmed for 30 minutes to one hour before operation, because of fuel-related issues.

4. Alternative fuels void vehicle warranties.

This may or may not be true, so be sure you’re clear before you choose. Ask your authorized dealer or installer how a new fuel system affects warranty. If you’re buying direct from a manufacturer, the warranty may stay in place. For example, ROUSH CleanTech vehicles maintain Ford’s factory warranty. But, note that a company can “represent” their warranty; be sure to verify that the warranty stays in place with the manufacturer.

5. There is one alternative fuel that is perfect for everyone.

Every fleet has its own specific fueling needs. One size does not fit all. When it comes to alternative fuels, put in the time and research to find the ideal fuel solution for your fleet. Ask yourself, “What do I need my fuel to do for me?”

Picking the right fuel and the right technology partners will be based on your specific fleet operations. Listen and learn from others that have made the switch, contact Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition to help in the process and make the commitment to domestically produced, cleaner burning fuels.