Clean Transportation Partners’ Success Highlight Use of Propane and Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Two documents recently posted on the N.C. Solar Center’s Clean Transportation web pages : the  Hybrid Electric Vehicle Impact Summary  and Propane Vehicles Success Story  highlight two of the alternative fuel/advanced vehicle technologies expanded through the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project- a six year project of the Center that spanned 2006-2012. An overall summary of the CFAT project, which focused on education, outreach, recognition of exemplary efforts and sub-award funding assistance for technologies that reduce transportation related emissions in eligible North Carolina counties, is captured here.

A 2010 CFAT call for projects led to the purchase of 23 light- duty hybrid electric passenger vehicles (HEVs) by seven government entities: Cities of Cherryville and Raleigh, Centralina Council of Governments, Nash and Person Counties, Nash Rocky Mount Schools and Town of Chapel Hill. Collectively these vehicles drive approximately 365,000 miles and displace over 9,500 gallons of gasoline annually through the increased efficiency of the hybrids compared to vehicles being replaced.

Another CFAT success story is the use of propane (aka as LPG or autogas) by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Department. Thirteen (13) 2010 Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars were converted to gasoline-LPG bi-fuel vehicles. The conversion cost was $4,615 per vehicle for a total project cost of $59,990. Project funding contributed $38,865 with the Sherriff’s Office cost share of $21,125 coming from Drug Interdiction Funds. With LPG pricing considerably less than conventional fuels (current state contract prices for a transport load of propane before taxes is around $1.08 per gallon) the Sherriff’s Department is saving money while reducing emissions. As a low carbon fuel propane burns cleaner than its conventional counterparts. Moreover, LPG is widely available through an established distribution network.

All in all, drivers soon discovered that there is little compromise in style and performance with HEVs and LPG vehicles. In fact, an additional 20-25 plug-in electric, hybrid electric and propane vehicles were purchased by project partners as a result of their initial experience through the grant-funded project. The N.C. Solar Center is pleased that the CFAT project will continue with $6.2 million in funding from the NC Dept. of Transportation for federal fiscal years 2013-2015. The project will expand with a media campaign, training opportunities and additional funding for emission reduction sub-award projects.