Shale Gas Boom Drives Surge in Propane-Fueled Vehicles

The U.S. satellite TV provider DISH Network Corporation has announced it will introduce 200 propane-fueled vans to its fleet in 2013, another sign that propane, like natural gas, is offering an increasingly cost-effective transportation fuel alternative to gasoline and diesel. While there are already more than 13 million propane-fueled vehicles worldwide, propane historically has been considered a niche fuel because of high production costs. But driven by the surge in domestic shale oil and gas production, the wholesale cost of propane is now only about 85 cents per gallon — about half of 2011 costs. And while the vehicles cost about 10 percent more than diesel-fueled trucks, propane-fueled trucks ultimately can save $50,000 in fuel costs over the life of a vehicle, according to Reuters. In addition, DISH officials say their new propane-fueled vans will reduce the fleet’s overall emissions of carbon dioxide by 12.5 million pounds over the lifetime of the vehicles. According to Pike Research, sales of natural gas-fueled vehicles are projected to increase 10 percent annually through 2019 while propane-fueled vehicles are expected to climb 8 percent per year.