Vauxhall looks again at potential LPG comeback
22 July 2011
Author: Nick Gibbs
LPG is poised to make a surprise comeback, with Vauxhall saying it's once more ready to sell cars with factory developed kits if the demand is there.
The company was at the forefront of the market for dual-fuel cars, but stopped selling them in 2006 after Government grants for the conversions were cut.
As of April this year, the incentive of reduced company car tax was also removed, but the fuel is still massively cheaper than petrol. As of July 13, LPG averaged 75.5 pence per litre, compared to 134.9p for petrol.
Vauxhall boss Duncan Aldred told BusinessCar that the company had been trialling LPG conversions when interest spiked in 2010, but made the decision not to pursue it earlier this year. However he did say the company was in a good position to offer the conversions, understood to be Astras initially, if interest picked up again. Sister brand Chevrolet has also investigated LPG and would be in a position to move if the market returned. The firm has vehicles developed for European LPG sale as the fuel has become popular in Italy, according to Chevrolet UK boss Mark?Terry. He said the firm will monitor the situation, but can't drive the market forward on its own.
However Mazda is one company that does offer approved LPG cars to fleet customers, with specialists Prins Autogas UK converting the Mazda3 and Mazda6. Fleet and remarketing director Peter Allibon said earlier this year: "We are in talks with a number of other businesses interested in taking delivery of LPG converted Mazdas." Fleets already running cars from the company include BP and Calor.
"LPG can provide clear financial fuel savings and environmental benefits, both of which are crucial to fleets with the business focus very much on cost management and carbon footprint reduction," Allibon said.
LPG is sold at around 1400 forecourts across the UK. Conversions costs between £1500 to £2000, according to Prins, which can also convert the latest direct injection petrol engines. On average, cars running on LPG are 20% less efficient than if they were using petrol, though the fuel is around half the price.
LPG is still popular across the rest of Europe, with Opel offering factory fit LPG conversions of the Corsa, Meriva, Astra and Insignia in Germany.
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