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Gas powered vehicle can be converted to propane for about $3,000

Gas powered vehicle can be converted to propane for about $3,000

February 1st, 2012 in News

Two representatives of Propane Education and Research Council, Marc Porth and Tom Proctor, from left standing, discuss conversion of gasoline engines to propane during a Holts Summit Community Betterment Association meeting Tuesday night in Holts Summit.

Photo by Don Norfleet

HOLTS SUMMIT- About a dozen farmers, commercial vehicle operators and interested citizens learned Tuesday night it's cheaper to operate a personal vehicle after it is converted from burning gasoline to propane.

The meeting, arranged by Pam Murray, president of the Holts Summit Community Betterment Association, was in the Community Room of Mid America Bank.

Marc Phillips of Conoco Phillips, chairman of the Propane Education and Research Council, said a car can be converted to operate on either propane or gasoline by flipping a switch in a car. He said it would cost from $3,000 to $4,000 to make this type of a conversion. It would cost less, perhaps $2,500, to operate only on propane and remove the gasoline tank.

Tom Proctor of MFA, also a member of the propane council, said propane gas is a byproduct of refining gasoline and more than 90 percent of the propane in the United States originates in the United States, not from foreign countries.

Propane already is used in many commercial operations, including vehicle fleets, tractors, commercial lawn mowers and irrigation systems.

Proctor said propane has more British Thermal Units (BTUs) per gallon than a gallon of natural gas, which is another option for powering vehicles.

Ford Motor Co., he said, manufacturers numerous trucks, including many pickups, that run on propane. He said General Motors also manufactures large trucks that operate on propane, all with factory warranties on the vehicles.

There also are several firms in Missouri that specialize in converting vehicles from gasoline power to propane power.

A commercial vehicle can be converted with a range of about 300 to 500 miles for each tank.

"That's why so many fleets are using propane gas. When they return each day from routes, they can be refilled with propane during the night," Proctor said.

Proctor said in New Zealand and Australia, about 40 percent of the gasoline stations also have liquid propane and natural gas options for customers in addition to conventional gasoline.

Proctor said today in Holts Summit and Jefferson City it costs about $2.07 per gallon for propane gas, compared to $3.19 a gallon for gasoline. He said the mileage per gallon is from 5 to 10 percent less with propane than with gasoline.

In addition, the state gasoline tax is avoided by buying a one-year Missouri special fuel permit to burn propane instead of gasoline.

The permit is based on the weight of the vehicle. "It costs from $150 to $175 per year for a one-half ton pickup," Proctor said. The federal excise tax on fuels still must be paid, he said, but the cost per gallon is still about $1 lower than with gasoline.