Sixty percent of outdoor power equipment dealers expect to sell propane equipment in the next 3 years, up from the 25% that carry propane equipment today, according to a recent survey commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).
Jeremy Wishart, deputy director of business development for PERC, attributes the increase to several factors, including an increase in the number of propane equipment now being manufactured and fluctuating gas prices. “It’s moved from a niche to a viable option,” he says. “In the coming months, I expect to see an even greater proliferation of EFI propane engine technology.”
Wishart mentions in particular the Kohler Command Pro EFI engines, introduced several years ago. He says the field reports are “amazing,” with the engine being the one other manufacturers are watching.
The survey also quantified some of the issues the industry faces. For instance, 55% of the responding dealers didn’t know or thought propane was more expensive than gasoline. (According to PERC, propane price per gallon is generally 30% lower than a gallon of gas.) Eighty percent rated the performance of propane equipment on par with gasoline — indicating 20% are under the misconception the performance is less. And 80% of those not currently selling equipment didn’t know about state and federal purchase incentives.
Wishart says gains have been made in awareness about propane’s benefits in the last few years, thanks to PERC education programs. He hopes new initiatives will build on that, including training programs coordinated with OEMs and the council’s new Propane Equipment Dealer Point. The online search tool allows commercial landscaping contractors to find the nearest knowledgeable dealers offering propane-powered mowers. Propane equipment dealers can also sign up to be listed on the site.
Wishart offers these steps for those considering propane.
- Go to www.propane.com to view market segment information, testimonials and education materials.
- Check with your manufacturers of propane equipment and engines for equipment information and education programs.
- Survey the propane retailers in your area to check their level of commitment to supply.
Wishart says dealers in some large metro areas have propane cylinder exchange cages at their stores, offering a revenue generator beyond equipment sale and service. For instance, in the metro Chicago area, he estimates about 20-30 dealers have some form of refueling on site.
Landscapers are taking note of the emissions and cost-savings benefits of propane-powered equipment. Another survey form PERC shows that 34% of contractors say they are considering using propane to fuel their fleets within the next 3 years.
Stay tuned as we’ll keep you updated on new propane equipment being introduced at GIE+Expo as well as battery-powered equipment. Equipment powered by alternative energy will continue to be a trending topic in the rural equipment market.