Right time for fleets to consider benefits of LPG, says head of Autogas
The call comes from Autogas, which says it is confident this will be a significant point in further building the market in the UK, which already has 160,000 drivers and 1,400 fuelling sites.
Linda Gomersall, head of Autogas, a joint venture between Calor and Shell, said: ‘For the first time in a long time we’ve had a long-term commitment form the Government, which is what we’ve been after because it gives people some assurance that it is worth going out getting a car converted because you do know that over the next 10 years the price is not going to drastically change with LPG.’
As a result of the 10-year commitment, Gomersall said that now is a really good time for fleets to look at getting vehicles converted: ‘I think with this commitment from the Government it’s something that’s really worth considering now, especially with the price of diesel. Diesel is heralded as this fantastic green fuel that is much cheaper but the price has increased so now you’re paying [around] £1.35 a litre whereas LPG is only 69p a litre it’s phenomenally much cheaper, so it’s half the price.
‘But also it’s very cost effective to convert your car and run it on LPG. For example if you’re doing 16k miles a year or more and you’re in a typical reps car, such as a Passat, it would cost maybe £1,200 to convert then you’re pretty much going to pay that back within one year – the saving [in fuel costs] is around £1,200 a year. There’s no other investment you can make in the UK where you can put down £1,200 on a conversion and then within three years you’ll get back £2,400. In this sort of age where businesses are struggling, especially small businesses, it’s absolutely worth considering going and getting the car converted.
‘To do that it’s just a case going to the UKLPG website and there’s a page on there that gives you advice and information and you just put your postcode in and that takes you to a list of approved installer – these installers are people who’ve been verified by the UK LPG so that they meet the right standard.’
‘Or if fleet managers wanted to contact ourselves, we can always act as conduit to help people find a good converter. We can always point them in the right direction.’
Autogas is preparing a blueprint of measures which it believes need to be put in place to driver consumer and fleet interest and hopefully mirror the success of Germany which introduced a 10-year guarantee similar to the UK four years ago and has since grown its LPG market to 500,000.
Gomersall said: ‘We’ve selectively got together and thought about why has LPG not been so successful over here. And so we’ve got come up with a set of reasons why LPG has been held back and we are going to take those to the Government and ask them to consider those and to help us to develop this fuel – at the end of the day there is a place for every fuel really. There’s a place for hydrogen and electric and even petrol – every fuel has a great place where it sits but the Government needs to come up with strategy for each of those fuels.’
The LPG industry is also encouraging OEMs to start producing LPG vehicles again.
Gomersall said: ‘I think ultimately what we really want is now for the manufacturers to come back into the UK [LPG market]. So we have been working with the manufacturers and we’ve been telling them about the 10-year trajectory and try to encourage them back into the industry because ultimately if you’re a large fleet you want the manufacturers to be able to produce [LPG] cars for you.’
Gomersall also said that LPG infrastructure isn’t an issue: ‘You’re only 5 miles on average away from an LPG filling point – there are 1,400 throughout the UK and really spread quite diversely as well. In the past it has been an issue that there hasn’t been the infrastructure but rather ironically we absolutely now do have that infrastructure and that infrastructure is increasing – there are new sites going in all the time – but now we don’t have the cars.
‘But we do still have conversions – there are lot of people out there doing that. They’re getting wise to the fact that it is quite simple to do and very cost effective once you’ve done it.’
She added: ‘So it does really seem the right time for LPG in terms of its emissions, and the fact that we’ve got this 10-year commitment from the Government on the price – they will put a penny a year on but it still means in the year 2024 it’s only going to be 78p it’s still fantastic. It’s still much cheaper than petrol and diesel. So it does seem that now is the time for LPG. We just need to push those manufacturers into the UK.
‘And I think if we have more people converting vehicles for their fleets and we can show some demand for it, we’ll be able to take that to the manufacturers and say, “Look, there is a demand here. It’s just that the Government policies have driven us down a rabbit hole and actually there is a demand and if you come in, you will see it.”’
Concluding, Gomersall said: ‘There are lots of reasons why LPG is now worthy of consideration.’