Propane, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), has been used in vehicles since the 1920s. Today there are more than 200,000 propane vehicles in the United States and about 9 million worldwide. These include cars, pickup trucks, and vans; and medium- heavy-duty vehicles such as shuttles, trolleys, delivery trucks, and school buses; and off-road vehicles such as forklifts and loaders. Propane vehicles can be equipped with dedicated fueling systems designed to use only propane, or bi-fuel fueling systems that enable fueling with either propane or gasoline.
What Types of Vehicles Use Propane?
A number of manufacturers produce medium-duty propane vehicles. Several companies offer buses, shuttles, and trolleys that can be fueled with propane. Check out our listing of current model year heavy-duty vehicles for details. Most light-duty propane vehicles on the road are aftermarket conversions. See our vehicle conversions page to find out more about vehicles that can be converted to run on propane.
Propane is the most accessible of the liquid and gaseous alternative fuels. All states have publicly accessible fueling stations; approximately 3,000 are documented. Use our Station Locator to find a propane fueling location in your area.
The time needed to fill a vehicle with propane is comparable to that needed for gasoline or diesel fuel. The tanks are filled to no more than 80% capacity (there is an automatic shutoff on the tanks), to allow for liquid expansion as ambient temperature rises.
There are more than 200,000 on- and off-road propane-powered vehicles in the United States and about 9 million worldwide. Off-road applications include indoor use of vehicles such as forklifts and loaders, where propane’s clean burning properties help to maintain air quality.
Factory-installed light-duty truck conversion costs about $2,500 over the conventional vehicle base price; non-factory conversion costs also average about $2,500.
Some states offer incentives for propane use; see our incentives and laws page for details.
According to the National Propane Gas Association, some fleets report 2-3 years longer service life and extended maintenance intervals for propane vehicles. However, manufacturers and converters recommend conventional maintenance intervals. In addition, tanks that hold propane require periodic inspection and certification by a licensed inspector.
Propane is safe and has a very narrow flammability range. Adequate training is required to operate and maintain vehicles running on propane. Please see the training page for current information on sessions pertaining to the operation, maintenance, and fueling of alternative fuel vehicles or contact the Propane Education and Research Council.
Propane vehicles can produce 60% fewer ozone-forming emissions (CO and NOx) than vehicles powered by reformulated gasoline. In addition, tests on light-duty, bi-fuel vehicles have demonstrated a 98% reduction in the emissions of toxics, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde, when the vehicles were running on propane rather than gasoline.
The cost of a gasoline-gallon equivalent of LPG is generally less than that of gasoline, but varies depending on location. Check out the latest edition of the Alternative Fuel Price Report for an updated list of regional fuel prices. In addition, several states offer incentives for propane use; see our incentives and laws page to check propane incentives that may be offered in your state.
Propane is a domestic resource. Approximately 85% of the propane used in this country results from natural gas processing and petroleum refining inside the United States.
Propane vehicle power, acceleration, and cruising speed are similar to those of gasoline-powered vehicles.
The range for bi-fuel vehicles is comparable to that of gasoline vehicles, but the range of dedicated propane vehicles is generally less than gasoline vehicles because of the lower energy content of propane. (Propane contains about 84,000 Btu/gallon and regular gasoline averages 114,000 Btu/gallon.) Extra storage tanks can increase range, but the additional weight may displace some payload capacity.