US Autogas celebration a huge success
As a key part of the US propane industry’s Centennial Celebration, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) hosted a Clean Air Rally and Autogas Parade on April 14 in and around Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. With 49 propane-fueled vehicles taking part, the event was the largest of its kind to showcase LPG as a vehicle fuel. The NGPA subsequently submitted a bid to Guinness World Records™ for the largest number of Autogas vehicles ever to parade at a single event.
“The event was a spectacular showcase of the diversity of LPG as an engine fuel. We had everything from golf carts, lawn mowers and forklifts, to a motorcycle, race cars, police vehicles, trucks and a school bus,” said Rita Pecilunas, Propane Centennial Program Manager with Strategic Marketing Resources. “We settled on a Clean Air Rally to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first use of our fuel because, while we are a century-old, proven, reliable, and widely-used fuel, we wanted to focus on the future and what propane can do to help our economy, environment, and dependence on foreign oil. An Autogas Parade is a really visible, jazzy way to do that.”
Propane Autogas, LPG or LPG used as a road-transport fuel, is the world’s most widely used alternative vehicle fuel with nearly 17 million autogas vehicles worldwide. But unfortunately, the United States lags behind many other countries in adopting the fuel. The Department of Energy estimates that only 2% of the world’s propane autogas vehicles are American.
“Other nations are far ahead of the United States in adopting this proven, clean-burning vehicle fuel. Ninety-eight percent of the propane we use in the US is produced right here in America, which lessens our dependence on foreign oil sources. In addition, Autogas cuts harmful emissions by at least 20 percent compared to gasoline”, said Rick Roldan, President and CEO of the Washington DC-based National Propane Gas Association. “Add to this the fact that it costs at least $1.25 less per gallon than gasoline. In this economic climate, that is the most compelling reason of all to educate our communities and public officials on this fuel”, he added.
The Rally included fleet managers and vehicle drivers who were on hand to speak about the impact Autogas has had on improving the profitability and productivity of their fleets. The event was open to the press and public, who were offered the opportunity to participate in demonstrations and “ride and drives” following the parade. The media conference featured speakers from the NPGA, the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC), ROUSH CleanTech, Alliance Autogas, Clean Fuel USA and Clean Cities Atlanta. This has so far resulted in 34 media articles.
“The best part was seeing the public reaction to this long line of vehicles of all types—some of them really covetable—all running on propane Autogas. It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon, so the park was jammed with people out to enjoy the beautiful day. Many of them were not expecting to see this unusual parade and the reaction was priceless. You could see the jaws drop when we told them that every one of the vehicles there was fuelled by propane”, said Ms. Pecilunas.
“On the flip side, it makes it clear to all of us with an interest in this market, that we have a lot to do to educate the public, fleet managers and the press on the capabilities of Autogas as a clean fuel. This is not new technology, we have been doing this—and doing it extremely well—for years and years, but the majority of Americans aren’t aware of that”, she said.
Another notable part of the Rally was the convoy of Autogas vehicles that started in New England, picking up additional cars as it travelled to the event in Atlanta. The three-day road trip was organized by Joe Rose, president of the Propane Gas Association of New England. The group refuelled along the way, which provided a practical demonstration of the ease with which Autogas can be used for travelling across the country.
“Autogas is an extremely valuable contribution we make to the US economy—and one that we feel is critical to addressing our nation’s energy security issues moving forward. It is our birthday year celebration, but we thought that this event and the message it communicates, was our way to give something back to the communities we have served for the past century”, said Roldan.
Other programmes included in the NPGA’s Propane Centennial Celebration include a documentary video, a book chronicling the people and events that shaped the industry, and a museum of artefacts and memorabilia from the first 100 years, including the equipment originally used in 1912 by Walter O. Snelling – the chemist who identified propane as a component of gasoline and helped to commercialise a technique for separating it. The museum travelled to all major propane industry exhibitions and will be showcased for the last time this centennial year at the Northeast Propane Show in Boxborough, Massachusetts August 8-9. You can order a copy of the video from the NGPA by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and a copy of the book from Butane Propane News by contacting email@example.com.
The propane industry contributes approximately $46 billion per year to the US economy and employs directly over 48 000 people. NPGA is the national trade association of the propane industry with a membership of over 3 000 companies, including 38 affiliated state and regional associations representing members in all states.
The Propane Centennial Celebration was funded entirely by industry contributions. To find out about the sponsoring companies, view the historical timeline or learn more about this year’s Centennial programmes, please visit www.propane100.org. To see photographs, please join the Propane Centennial LinkedIn group and “like” the Propane Centennial page. If you have any questions about the Clean Air Rally or the Autogas Parade, please contact Rita directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.