LPG Autogas Boasts Best ‘Business Case’ for Light Duty
Fontaine Modification will emphasize propane – aka autogas, or LPG, for liquefied petroleum gas – as it steps up its efforts in light duty vehicles via its new Fontaine Alternative Fuels unit. The Charlotte, N.C.-based parent company said this week that it’s splitting itself into three focused business segments, the other two being Fontaine Auto Transport Services and Fontaine Modification Services.
“Fontaine Alternative Fuels,” states a release, “will concentrate on performing conversions of both gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles to run in conjunction with autogas (propane) or to be powered entirely by this emerging fuel source.”
Fontaine will continue its work with natural gas vehicle systems, but sees propane, with its advantages of cheaper fuel tanks and infrastructure, and greater vehicle range, as the better bet for light duty vehicles. “LPG is what really caught our interest,” says Fontaine Alternative Fuels executive VP Paul Kokalis, a 20-year company veteran. “There is a business here to be built.”
Fontaine’s traditional business is in heavy vehicles.
Extensive Ship-Thru Experience
The firm wants to establish a nationwide propane conversion network with uniform, well engineered upfits available at all of its eight locations. The resulting propane autogas vehicles would be “exactly the same, down to the last lock washer,” Kokalis says.
“We want to be the premier installer,” he told F&F.
Kokalis mentions Prins and CleanFuelUSA as propane component suppliers but says he’s talking with Icom North America and Roush CleanTech too. And already 40 Chevrolet pickups are being converted to propane by Fontaine in Texas using Impco equipment, he says.
Key volume customer prospects include the Virginia state fleet, which would be served from Fontaine’s Dublin, Va. location.
Fontaine Alternative Fuels is based out of Fontaine’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. The company will maintain centralized core support functions there, including engineering, new product development and quality assurance.
Fontaine has eight modification centers located close to OEM manufacturing facilities. They are in Charlotte and Dublin, Va.; in Garland, Denton, and Laredo, Texas; in Gainesville, Ga.; Springfield, Ohio; and Williamstown, W.V. Fontaine has ship-thru agreements with all major truck manufacturers to streamline final deliveries. Two or three additional “satellite” locations are planned, Kokalis says.
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Source: Fontaine release with Fleets & Fuels follow-up