Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Retrofitting Your Way to an Alt-Fuel Vehicle

July 2011, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Shelley Mika - Also by this author

Retrofitting a unit’s powertrain to accommodate alternative fuel allows fleet managers to take existing units from traditional gas guzzlers to alt-fuel efficiency and extend vehicle life.
Retrofitting a unit’s powertrain to accommodate alternative fuel allows fleet managers to take existing units from traditional gas guzzlers to alt-fuel efficiency and extend vehicle life.

At a Glance

Retrofitting offers fleets several benefits, including:
● Lower greenhouse gas emissions.
● Reduced operating costs.
● Extended vehicle and equipment life.
● Reduced spending for new  vehicles and equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investing in new fleet units is a big budget line item that can make fleet managers — and those who approve their budgets — cringe. So when it comes to investing in alt-fuel vehicles, it can be tough to make the case for purchasing new units, particularly if the fleet is already in good working order.

Thankfully, there’s a middle ground: retrofitting. Retrofitting a unit’s powertrain to accommodate alternative fuel allows fleet managers to take existing units from traditional gas guzzlers to alt-fuel efficiency. But is retrofitting right for your fleet? Knowing the options available, and the pros and cons of making the switch, can help fleet managers invest wisely as they work toward greener futures.

Choose Your Fuel

The first choice in a fleet manager’s path toward a retrofitted alternative-fuel fleet is choosing which alt fuel to use. Common choices include plug-in hybrids, propane, and compressed natural gas (CNG).
Ultimately, the choice depends on a few key considerations:

  • Access to alt fuels.
  • Infrastructure required to support an alternative-fuel vehicle.
  • Costs associated with retrofitting, then fueling the unit.

While propane and CNG will require access to sites that carry those fuels, plug-in hybrids offer a more turnkey solution. Of course, choosing the most appropriate fuel source ultimately depends on the type of vehicle and what it’s used for.

ALTe’s plug-in hybrids can be recharged with something as basic as a normal 110 [volt] outlet, and the engines only require normal unleaded gasoline. In addition, the packaging of our lithium-ion battery packs is such that there is not a reduction in cargo carrying capacity for any of the pickups or vans that we retrofit,” said Dennis Baranik, vice president, marketing and sales, ALTe Powertrain Technologies. “We believe that the plug-in electric series hybrid powertrain retrofit offered by ALTe Powertrain Technologies provides the fastest financial payback compared with any of these options.”

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