Currently reading: UK needs government intervention to drive up LPG vehicle sales
The duty on LPG fuel should be frozen to encourage more motorists to switch, says British firm

British company Autogas is calling for the government to freeze the duty on environmentally friendly liquefied petroleum gas.

The firm sees the move as being the first stage in an attempt to make the fuel more popular with British motorists. Thanks to the current tax break, a litre of LPG is currently half the price of a litre of petrol.

Autogas said if the UK followed Germany’s example by fixing the fuel duty rate for a number of years, big strides could be made in the adoption of LPG in the UK. In Turkey, 20 per cent of vehicles are powered by LPG; in Poland the figure is 10 per cent.

Only one per cent of cars in Germany currently run on LPG, but the government has said it will fix the duty on the fuel for five years to encourage a switch. LPG’s biggest advantage is a huge reduction in tailpipe pollution, which will help the country to meet EU rules on urban air quality.

Autogas — a joint venture between Shell and Calor — said LPG is an immediate and cost-effective way of not only reducing CO2 emissions per car but also slashing tailpipe pollution.

Although 1251 
LPG-compatible models are offered in EU markets, there is currently only one new LPG-equipped vehicle on sale - the Proton GEN-2 Ecologic - in showrooms in the UK, even though the UK has 1400 LPG pumps.

Speaking at the recent World LPG Gas Forum in London, Eric Johnson of Atlantic Consulting said like-for-like tests with LPG-powered cars showed they emit 11 per cent less CO2 than petrol-powered models

In terms of local pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, LPG emits less than 10 per cent of the amount that a diesel-powered car does, while LPG particulate emissions are too low to measure and substantially better than demanded by Euro 6 rules.

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kourgath 15 October 2013

LPG benefits and problems

My Land Rover has run LPG since about 2000. In that time I have seen the number of local stations increase to 5 then reduce to 1. Some of the sites closed completely and are now housing, one went bust from being 'too far' away from main driving routes. The one left is on a major route.

As to running, my engine runs smoother, cleaner (plugs last longer and fuel burns better), starts on LPG and while a loss of some power is expected it isn't all that hard to flick the switch back to petrol for that urge to overtake.

Problems are the extra fuel tank and some piping. Most main insurance companies won't insure you as it is 'modified' and then there is a lack of understanding from buyers.

The main killer for car sales was simply just how good modern diesels have become. Refined, quiet, powerful and frugal. That and manufacturers asking silly money for a LPG version which for most people would have taken 5 years to pay off.

For me the payback was 5 months but then I run a big V8 in an off-roader (that I need for some of my work).

Autogas Ltd 15 October 2013

In answer to some of your questions

Right, to be up-front from the outset, I do and have worked for the UK's largest supplier of automotive LPG for nearly 10 years and it is our company that is quoted in the article above.

So, why don't the OEM's bring factory-fitted LPG cars into the UK? Well, as the story states, if you go to mainland Europe, many of the OEM's offer factory-fit LPG models. We believe the UK is now without OEM support due to on-going uncertainty of UK government policy whereby the duty level on autogas LPG has only ever been guaranteed for a period of between 3 and 5-years, which is rather short-term if you’re a manufacturer looking at R&D, other investment costs and payback. Compare that to Germany where, in 2008, the government put in place legislation that guaranteed the tax rate on autogas below other fuels until 2018, a 10-year commitment giving manufacturers, LPG suppliers and the consumer greater certainty, The German government is now being lobbied to extend this further to the year 2025.

The currently justification for the lower duty level on LPG (15.26p/litre versus 57.95p/litre) is that LPG is a cleaner burning, less chemically complex fossil fuel emitting less CO2, nitrous oxide and particulate matter (and other pollutants) when combusted than the other mainstream fuels.
There are only about 160,000 LPG vehicles in the UK, a tiny 0.5% of the total 33million vehicle parc, so little would be to gained from increasing duty on autogas & the industry (worth £150 million to the UK economy and employing 900 people) would challenge any sharp rise in duty otherwise it would shut overnight (LPG vehicles retain the petrol tank so pressing a button on the dash would see the vehicle running back on petrol). It is uncertainty of medium to long-term government policy that stopping the industry and OEM's in further investing and supplying vehicles to the market.

There is no doubt that the days of fossil fuels will not endure long-term but until new technology (probably hydrogen) is fully available, supported and understood by the wider public we should make the best of all readily available fuels and technologies to reduce the pollution that is damaging the world and the human race (including all potential options such as LPG, CNG, LNG, hybrids etc.). It surprises me that current policy is pushing people into hybrid-electric or pure electric vehicles yet on the other side, the energy watchdog is warning that unless new power stations are built (of which fuel they use (fossil, nuclear or renewable) nobody can agree) we may start experiencing power supply interruptions. Will this potential situation not be made worse by people plugging in EV's? What (although I know duty doesn't pay for the upkeep of the roads) will replace the income the government receives from fuel duty unless some other charge is made for those in EV's?

In this country we have the highest concentration of LPG refuelling pumps to vehicles of all our European cousins and, on average, you are never more than 5 miles from one. The 1,400 LPG refuelling sites now in place have come about from private investment and not any hand out of public money. There is extra capacity in the existing sites and more new refuelling sites can be built if demand increases.

Andrew 61 12 October 2013

Diesel re-run

One reason people may not be keen to adopt this tech is what happened with diesel cars. Few cars were powered by diesel 25 years ago but the fuel was comparatively cheap, this encouraged the development of diesel engines for passenger cars. Once the number of diesel cars on the road became significant government increased tax to compensate for lost petrol revenue. The same would happen with LPG so why change from a widely available fuel? Once bitten....