CHICAGO — Alpha Baking Company, Inc. has become the first baking company to operate a fleet of autogas liquid propane vehicles, introducing 22 stepvans in the Chicago-metro area, according to the company.

Alpha Baking said it is introducing the autogas vehicles to reduce emissions while also continuing to meet operational performance needs without suffering a decrease in engine horsepower or torque. Penske Truck Leasing will serve as the commercial truck fleet maintenance service provider for the bread delivery vehicles.

“After much research and testing, the time has arrived for Alpha Baking to integrate propane autogas equipment into our fleet,” said Bob McGuire, vice-president and director of logistics for Alpha Baking. “The technology is here and it is affordable.”

Mr. McGuire added Alpha Baking is making the move to autogas vehicles “because it’s the right thing to do.”

“First, these propane-powered bread delivery trucks will emit fewer emissions and our company has been extremely progressive in doing the right thing for the environment,” he said. “Second, propane is produced here in the U.S. and is therefore good for our economy. Lastly, this strategy reduces our dependency on foreign oil.”

Mr. McGuire said the autogas vehicles will save about 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year and emit approximately 2 million fewer pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime. The vehicles also lessen noise levels by 50% compared to conventional diesel trucks.

Alpha Baking makes bread, buns and rolls at plants in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. The company employs more than 1,400 people and has more than 300 trucks in its delivery fleet.