EPA Approves First Bi-Fuel LPI Engine for Ford Ecoline Vans

New Hudson, Mich. - New Hudson-based Icom North America, a developer and manufacturer of liquid injection propane systems for commercial and consumer vehicles, said Thursday it had attained the first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval for its Liquid Injection Propane bi-fuel systems for the Ford 6.8 liter engines, produced for Ford Econoline vans.

Ralph Perpetuini, CEO of Icom North America, said his company was given the green light by the EPA to convert applicable Ford 6.8 liter gasoline engines for E-250, E-350 and E-450 platforms covering model years 2010 and 2011 for propane and gasoline (or bi-fuel) use. Most end users of this technology will be commercial fleets of ambulances, shuttle buses, flatbeds, cutaways and cargo vehicles.

“This is the first time the EPA has certified a bi-fuel engine system using liquid propane injection,” Perpetuini noted. “We believe propane is the most energy-efficient and practical alternative fuel currently available. Coupled with gasoline in a bi-fuel engine, propane gives fleet owners the option of refueling with either fuel, providing extended range. This is ideal for the fleet user who has numerous delivery vehicles, including those with small fleets at many locations.”

Since 2004, Icom North America has been supplying its patented JTG liquid-injection propane mono-fuel systems to bus, truck and commercial vehicle manufacturers in the United States.

Perpetuini said Icom will add eight to 10 new positions later this year at its manufacturing plant in New Hudson, where the company already has begun production of the EPA-certified bi-fuel conversion system for existing customers.

Albert Venezio, chairman of Icom North America noted: “The patented Icom JTG approach is revolutionary. It injects liquid propane, not vapor, through an actual injector in the vehicle’s manifold. The vehicle’s OEM powertrain control module … directly controls our system, eliminating the need for additional computer mapping. Installation is fast and simple.”

Currently, propane fuel is used primarily on commercial vehicles.  But Icom’s proprietary vehicle-conversion systems can be used on any gasoline fuel-injected car or truck, including taxis, police vehicles, or passenger cars. Icom’s patented JTG liquid-propane injection application is a fully-integrated, mono-fuel or bi-fuel engine system designed in harmony with OEM gasoline engines.

“When utilizing the Icom JTG system, drivability, performance and torque are equal to or better than gasoline,” Venezio said.

Mike Stone, Icom’s vehicle technical manager noted: “Our emission results were excellent and the Icom JTG system required no powertrain control module calibrations. We are the first system certified to do so.”

As gasoline increases in price, propane continues to have a cost advantage, with more than 90 percent of the nation’s propane coming from U.S. and Canadian sources, further reducing dependence on foreign oil. In certain U.S. states, fleet owners benefit from tax credits or rebates as well.

More than 120,000 vehicles worldwide have utilized the Icom JTG Propane System since 2004.

Icom is expecting additional EPA certifications for popular fleet vehicles in 2011.

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