Polk County running patrol cars on propane
The office contracted with Auto Additions of Salem to convert seven Ford Crown Victorias, two Chevrolet Tahoes and a Ford F-350. They were fitted with Prins VSI bi-fuel autogas systems supplied by Alliance AutoGas.
Gas to power the cars is being supplied by Blue Star Gas through a fuel station developed on site.
Sgt. Mark Garton said sheriff’s office vehicles average about 25,000 miles a year, so fuel is a major expense. Even without a federal alternative fuel credit of 50 cents a gallon, propane costs substantially less than gasoline, he said, and mileage is virtually identical.
“Our deputies have not noticed any difference in vehicle performance,” he said.
As an added benefit, he said, “Autogas engines run cleaner than gasoline engines. The autogas vehicles can drive up to 10,000 miles between regular service, since autogas is a cleaner-burning, higher-octane fuel. So the engine life our aging fleet should be increased.”
Blue Star Gas sponsors conversion programs up and down the West Coast. It arranges conversions, establishes fuel stations, trains staff and provides ongoing technical support.
Garton said conversion kits can be readily pulled from a retiring vehicle and fitted to a replacement. He said that promised to “continue to help us save money into the future.”
In addition, he said, the cars retain the ability to run on gasoline in an emergency.
Propane is the most widely used alternative fuel in the world, according to Blue Star. The company said it already powers 18 million vehicles.
What’s more, 98 percent of the domestic supply is domestically produced, the company said.
At present, propane is running about $2 a gallon less than gasoline.