Working with Roush CleanTech, DDA Transport put six new Ford F750 straight trucks powered by propane autogas into its New Hampshire U.S. postal fleet last August.  -  Photo: DDA Transport

Working with Roush CleanTech, DDA Transport put six new Ford F750 straight trucks powered by propane autogas into its New Hampshire U.S. postal fleet last August.

Photo: DDA Transport

A major factor in the adoption of alternative fuels is location. For DDA Transport, its New England operations limited its options.

DDA’s primary business is as a postal contractor, transporting local mail in medium-duty straight trucks and linehaul mail between postal distribution centers in New Hampshire and Vermont.

“The Post Office, and the government in general, is trying to push for alternative energy,” says DDA President Dwayne Andreasen. “Obviously everybody’s going that route, electric vehicles or alternative fuels, trying to slow global warming.”

The company recognized the importance of reducing its carbon footprint, but it needed a solution that wouldn’t burden the company with infrastructure constraints or costly maintenance.

“As we looked at the entire market, the only thing we felt was viable in New England was converting some of our straight trucks to alternative fuels,” Andreasen says.

Investigating Alternative-Fuel Options

DDA looked into compressed natural gas, battery-electric, and propane autogas options.

“Electric kind of ruled itself out just because it didn’t meet our needs; we do probably 300 miles a day with most of our trucks and couldn’t get that range, and the infrastructure to recharge them isn’t there,” he explains.

FLEET SNAPSHOT

Who: DDA Transport

Where: Londonderry, New Hampshire

Fleet: About 100 Class 8 and 60 medium-duty

Operations: USPS contractor

Fun Fact: DDA started out in the truck and trailer repair business

Challenge: Alternative fuel adoption

Looking at CNG, he said, infrastructure was also a problem, as well as modifications that would be required to its shop to do the repair and maintenance on the trucks.

“So we looked at the propane autogas, and certainly it’s been kind of tried and proven in the school bus industry. It gave us the close to zero emissions we were looking for, it gave us the reliability we were looking for.”

Working with Roush CleanTech, DDA put six new Ford F-750 straight trucks powered by propane autogas into its New Hampshire U.S. postal fleet last August.

“So far we love them,” Andreasen says. “The drivers like them. The neighbors around our truck yard like them, because they’re quiet when they start at 3 in the morning.”

Propane Fueling Infrastructure

And fueling infrastructure?

“The propane autogas people literally set up our own fueling station provided at almost zero cost from the propane company,” he says.

DDA worked with Ferrellgas to install an onsite propane station.

“We need onsite fueling because our trucks run on very strict schedules and are typically running from the early morning hours until the late evening,” he explains.

Ferrellgas not only provided the fuel but also worked out a cost-effective solution by incorporating a fueling station into a long-term fuel contract.

DDA worked with Ferrellgas to install an onsite propane fueling station.  -  Photo: DDA Transport

DDA worked with Ferrellgas to install an onsite propane fueling station.

Photo: DDA Transport

Return on Investment for Propane Autogas Trucks

DDA, anticipates saving $25,000 on fuel spending and an additional $15,000 in maintenance and uptime costs for each truck annually compared to diesel models.

Andreasen projects a two-year payback on the propane trucks. CNG would have meant a six- to seven-year payback.

“If I can’t pay that truck back within four years, it just doesn’t make much sense.”

DDA is focusing on its straight trucks for now. It will likely be a while before it’s able to find a good fit for an alternative for the Class 8 trucks, he says. The charging/fueling infrastructure issues that made electric trucks and natural gas not a good fit for his medium-duty trucks are even more true for heavy-duty trucks.

The company’s goal is to achieve a 50/50 mix between diesel and propane autogas within the next few years.

Asked for advice he would give other fleets regarding adopting propane autogas, Andreasen said, “I would tell them really look into it, do your homework as far as what your needs are, what your routes are. But literally, just start talking to propane people.”

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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