Thinking of switching from diesel? You may want to rethink that.

The problems previously associated with old diesel are old news. Today’s clean diesel is different, offering benefits that are miles ahead of gasoline. The proof: districts running a clean diesel fleet are reaping the benefits of cost savings, easy maintenance, and eco-friendliness.

The facts are clear: diesel is the fuel of choice for today’s fleets. Here’s a deeper dive into the top three reasons to stay the course with diesel.

Diesel saves green.

Gasoline school buses may have a lower sticker price, but that’s only part of the cost story.

“You have to be extremely careful when calculating the lowest cost of ownership,” says Tom Schaaf, vice president and general manager of Carolina Thomas, Thomas Built Buses’ North Carolina Dealer. “You have to figure in everything.”

At the top of that “everything” list: fuel costs.

The greatest cost of a fleet’s total operating budget isn’t the initial investment in the bus. It’s the cost of the fuel needed to run that fleet, year in and year out. In fact, fuel costs equate to more than two-thirds of the typical fleet’s annual operating expenses.

Powered by clean-diesel engines like the Detroit® DD5™ and the Cummins B6.7, diesel is the most fuel-efficient engine on the market, providing nearly 90 percent better fuel economy and a longer operating range than other similar-size gasoline or propane engines. And fuel savings don’t end at the pump. Less frequent fuel-ups also mean fewer personnel costs associated with fueling up, offering additional economies.

As Caley Edgerly, President and CEO of Thomas Built Buses puts it, “A vehicle may be three or four thousand dollars less on the sticker, but you eat that up in one year in fuel costs.”

Diesel also has stronger resale value and proven durability, providing long-term savings. In addition to best-in-class fuel economy, the new Detroit DD5 offers a B10 life of 400,000 miles, all but eliminating the need to replace the engine. “On a school bus you’re not going to be putting on those miles,” says Edgerly.

Diesel is green.

Today’s clean diesel is cleaner than ever.

How clean? Diesel emissions at the tailpipe are more than 90 percent cleaner than they were in 2006 and are comparable to—or even cleaner than—other fuel types based on EPA-regulated emissions standards.

Diesel also offers the lowest carbon footprint over the operational lifetime of the bus in terms of carbon dioxide. This clean, green profile is partly due to state-of-the-art engine technology, like that in the Detroit™ DD5™.  

“If you look at all the emissions from start to finish, clean diesel is doing the best job today of anything we have to use to transport children to and from school,” says Schaaf. “Clean diesel is the best for our environment today.”

“That means something for our grandkids,” adds Edgerly.

New diesel lets you say goodbye to aftertreatment issues

In the past, diesel aftertreatment systems were a pain point for technicians. A big one.

“We should empathize with those customers and do our best to educate them that today’s product is different than what previously was in the market,” says Edgerly.

Thanks to innovative variable cam-phasing technology available through Detroit, as well as the Stay Warm feature available through Cummins, new clean-diesel aftertreatment systems allow additional heat to enter the exhaust stream, enabling efficient operation of the aftertreatment system in low speed and stop-and-go operations.

And that’s just the beginning.

Newer engines like the DD5™ and DD8™  also boast some of the longest service intervals in their class. The DD5 comes with top-load oil and fuel filters for easier serviceability and up to 45,000-mile oil and fuel filter change intervals*. If industry-leading service intervals and no aftertreatment headaches weren’t enough, these new engines also provide the industry’s best in connectivity with remote diagnostic services that deliver an extra layer of support for shops with limited technician bandwidth.

“If you have the opportunity to make a decision which, over the course of running your vehicle, could save you 30 to 40 thousand dollars in fuel costs, with a commitment that technology has evolved and the issues have been alleviated, trust that we have a better product out there. The economics add up,” said Edgerly.

Bottom line: diesel goes the distance.  

Although headlines may tout the benefits of changing gears and going to gasoline, the proof is clear and compelling. With the highest fuel efficiency, industry-leading maintenance intervals and the smallest carbon footprint of any fuel type, diesel is the right choice for today’s fleets. To learn even more about the differences between gasoline and clean-diesel school buses, tune in to Thomas Built Buses’ new podcast Thomas Talks.

* Or 18 months or 1,500 hours, whichever comes first.