Big Nestlé and Bimbo Truck Orders Boost Propane Fuel Use

March 03, 2016 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

The use of propane as an automotive fuel received a vote of confidence Thursday when two major food companies announced orders for more than 200 delivery trucks at the 2016 Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.

The Nestlé Waters North America division of the international food giant said that it is buying 154 Ford F-650 trucks fueled by so-called propane autogas. Nestlé will use the new trucks to deliver its Poland Spring, Perrier and S. Pellegrino water brands.

Bimbo Bakeries USA said it has ordered 84 new Ford F-59 trucks that run on propane autogas. It already has taken delivery of some of the vehicles, which it is using to deliver baked goods from its Oroweat, Entenmann’s, Sara Lee and other brands.

Roush CleanTech, a Livonia, Mich. automotive engineering firm, is equipping the combined 238 trucks to operate on propane.

The food companies said propane-fueled delivery trucks save money and are better for the environment than their diesel or gasoline counterparts.

“Because of the proven emissions reductions and cost savings, we knew it was the right choice to expand our fleet with this domestically produced alternative fuel,” said Bill Ardis, national fleet manager for Nestlé Waters North America.

Propane autogas costs the company an average of $1 per gallon, about half what it pays for diesel, Ardis said.

“Customers have already noticed that our trucks operating on autogas are quieter and cleaner,” Ardis said.

The company started running trucks that use the fuel in 2014 and already 30 vehicles in service.

Bimbo Bakeries USA, a division of a Mexican food giant, has propane autogas vehicles operating in Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C.

The fuel technology helps “accomplish our corporate environmental goals while lowering our bottom line,” said Gary Maresca, senior director of fleet services for the baked goods company.

Over its service life, each new propane autogas fueled delivery truck will cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 192,000 pounds compared to gasoline, Maresca said.

Nestle Natural Delivery Truck

Ford-built delivery truck converted by Roush CleanTech to run on propane fuel. (Photo: Roush CleanTech)

Propane is a growing fuel in some types of fleets – Roush has converted about 6,500 school buses to the fuel, said Todd Mouw, the company’s vice president of marketing and sales.

Now it’s gaining traction in commercial fleets, he said.

“It is less costly to maintain propane engine than diesel,” Mouw said. “Diesel has all of its emissions equipment to control pollution and particulates and that’s expensive to service.”

Propane also is a good alternative to natural gas.

Because it is stored at lower pressure, “you can pack a lot more propane fuel in the same real estate in a truck than you can with natural gas and at a lower cost,” Mouw said.