The future of transportation looks greener every day and fleet owners in public transit see that vision better than most. Between government regulations and pressure from communities to reduce emissions, public transportation will continue to evolve over the next decade to achieve near-zero emission levels. 

As fleet owners evaluate the best way to achieve their sustainability goals, they need to take a close look at the energy source they select. Not just at what’s happening at the tailpipe of their vehicles, but also all the emissions that go into creating the energy source that powers the vehicle. As such, selecting “zero-emission” vehicles, like electric vehicles (EVs), may be short sighted. 

A new study is debunking the common perception that EVs offer the lowest emissions for medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles. In fact, in most of the United States, propane autogas produces fewer emissions than comparable electric vehicles. As the study shows, there is no such thing as a zero-emissions vehicle. 

Evaluating Emissions 


In a comparative analysis conducted by the Propane Education & Research Council, researchers found propane-powered medium- and heavy-duty vehicles provide a lower carbon footprint solution in 38 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., when compared to medium- and heavy-duty EVs that are charged using the electric grid in those states. This is due to the amount of carbon that is produced from each state’s unique energy mix for electricity generation using coal, petroleum or other energy sources. In addition, battery production is significantly energy and carbon intensive.  

While electric vehicles may have zero tailpipe emissions, emissions are generated prior to the wheels turning on the road through the electric grid and the powertrain (chiefly battery manufacturing) production. When comparing the difference in life cycle equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2eq) emissions of a single medium-duty vehicle, propane autogas on a national average emits 125 tons of CO2eq less than an electric medium-duty vehicle.  To see the full article, click here.