Roush Paving The Way For Propane-Powered Auto Gas Systems

Posted on March 2nd, 2011 by

Joe Thompson, President of Roush Clean Tech, discusses his company’s recent partnership with NASCAR and the technology behind their new propane powered Ford F250 trucks.

Full Transcript:


Ben Lack: I’m with Joe Thompson, the President of Roush Clean Tech. Thanks so much for being with us.
Joe Thompson: Many thanks for having me.
Ben Lack: I wanted to talk to you about an interesting partnership that you guys have with Ford as it relates to some of the works that NASCAR is doing with their upcoming season. Could you talk to us a little bit about that?
Joe Thompson: Yes. Roush Clean Tech, which is one of the many divisions of Roush Enterprises, is working with NASCAR. NASCAR has a designer to show its green side at the upcoming years, and we were able to work with them to deploy some test units in their safety fleet that services various tracks. I think the total number of safety vehicles and track vehicles that they have is about 60 vehicles in each track. And, they’re coming up with the Daytona 500 race. Two of those vehicles, as a part of a test or pilot fleet, if you will, will be powered by the propane-powered auto gas systems that we developed here in Roush for our products.
Ben Lack: And how is that different from what the existing fleet for NASCAR currently have?
Joe Thompson: The current fleet that NASCAR has is gas-powered, as you would imagine; and, well, gasoline is the obvious choice, which most Americans abuse forever. The emergence of propane as an auto-gas is something that’s really on the move. It’s the third most commonly used fuel in the world, only behind gasoline and diesel. And NASCAR is looking at that as a viable alternative because it’s domestic, it’s clean, it’s abundant, and it’s less expensive than gasoline.
Ben Lack: How much less expensive is it?
Joe Thompson: It ranges anywhere from 35-40% less expensive than a gallon of gasoline.
Ben Lack: Wow. What about the impact that it has on the environment? Does it have a lower CO2 emission?
Joe Thompson: It sure does. The beauty of propane is that it really is first of the alternative fuels that we’ve seen that not only costs less and provides a favourable return on investment for the investor, but it does lower the carbon footprint — the greenhouse gases, the CO2 emissions, and, one that’s being watched ever so closely, the NOx level — the levels that it produces compared to that of gasoline. And then when you compare it to diesel, it’s even more aggressive. The beauty of propane is in its liquid form that we use it in. It is very compatible and very adaptable to the base gasoline architecture of the Ford engine. What we have to change to make it work with the Ford system in effect is the fuel tank, the fuel lines, the fuel rail, and different fuel injectors– that’s the hardware part of it. Then we take what we have access to customizing calibration as part of the factory control module; and you have yourself an operable system that can operate on propane based off for the gas– the base gas architecture.
Ben Lack: What vehicles will your system be used in the different Ford models?
Joe Thompson: What Ford and NASCAR are working with is their F-250s. But our product portfolio, we’ve been on developing a product portfolio for about almost five years now, is really starting to hit the sweet spot of all the fleets of North America. On the Ford trucks side, we have F-150, F-250, F-350, and soon we’re going to have F-450 and F-550. On the van side, we have E-150, E-250, E-350, and then we also have the E-450 cut away, which is like what a lot of your shuttle buses are. So you can see our product portfolio really is starting to stretch across a really diverse product mix, which makes us in this propane solution be very attractive to fleets like a Frito Lay, like a Century Link, like a Comcast or Quester, U-Hauler, and AT&T. It’s a perfect opportunity for us to showcase our technology on what is arguably one of the premiere spots to prove out and showcase technology, which is NASCAR.
Ben Lack: Are the vehicles only going to be tested at Daytona, or there are other races that are on deck or is it just a one-race pilot?
Joe Thompson: This structure owned by NASCAR, and their intent, and I have to let them comment exactly on which tracks they will be at, but their intent is that this safety trucks will be used at multiple tracks that are the Ford vehicle sanction tracks. NASCAR, as you move from venue to venue, either has Ford-based products or GM-based products or whatever the other manufacturers are. So, I think, NASCAR will use it at the Ford-base tracks, and when they’re not doing that, they’ll use around their operations either in Daytona or in Concord, North Carolina.
Ben Lack: Joe, I’m curious about why this business is so interesting to you and why you’re doing what you’re doing?
Joe Thompson: Yes. Good question. The heart and soul of our operation is obviously Jack Roush. And that the poor Jack Roush is, most people think he’s a racer, but what Jack really is is he’s a patriot. He’s American. And if you ever got an autograph from Jack, he always signs his signature as Jack Roush – USA. And, as we really felt it back in 2008, we started to feel the pinch and the crunch and how painful it is that our country has such a reliance on imported energy needs. And with the resources from an engineering standpoint that we have, Jack came to us, he said we need to do our part to contribute to the national energy policy, which is reduced dependence on foreign oil and clean-up the environment. And, we, as a company, Roush has the convenience of we work with compressed natural gas, we’ve worked with electrification, we’ve worked with clog and hybrids, we’ve worked with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. When it came time for us to put our own money into developing and putting our brand name on the product, propane is the one that we went with because propane has the operating characteristics that really appeal to a broader audience, if you will, and that is it’s environmentally friendlier than gasoline and diesel, it has a return on investment, it’s easily serviced, it’s easily worked on by mechanics, it’s operating characteristics and range patterns are very similar to that of gasoline. So, we’re doing our part to support America, the American economy and clean-up the environment. It’s very important to point out that Roush has and always will be from a branding stand point connected with Ford Motor company, and from the sports stand point, we will always be connected with NASCAR. This just made a natural fit and Ford right now has a growing market share particularly in the commercial fleet business and we’re just looking to contribute to that competitive advantage that they have by offering good propane pilot systems that the fleets of North America can begin to adopt and do their part to clean-up the environment.
Ben Lack: Well, Joe thanks so much for being with us today. I really do appreciate the insight that you shared with us. Have a great rest today. I look forward to staying in touch.
Joe Thompson: Okay. Take care.

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