LPG (liquid Petroleum Gas, also known as Autogas), is a by-product of oil extraction and refinery, composed of propane and butane. Unlike household gas, it is stored in its liquid form, and converted to gas by an LPG converter. In the UK, millions of tonnes of LPG are currently being exported as surplus to requirements, while we import petrol.
LPG has various benefits as a motor fuel. To begin with, it burns far more cleanly, making it a much more environmentally friendly product, producing an average of 20% less carbon dioxide which as we know is a major issue in the global warming crisis. It also contains fewer nitrogen oxides and evaporates more quickly than petrol, meaning spillages have less impact on the environment. And LPG engine is also typically much quieter than a petrol engine, thereby reducing noise pollution in cities as well as environmental pollution.
Price wise, LPG is also a winner. There have been concerns about the number of stations selling LPG, but that figure has risen to 1600 and is increasing, and the price at the pump is desirable. Lower duties on LPG mean that currently higher mileage drivers could see savings of up to 40% against a petrol engine, and 20% a diesel. Road tax is also reduced, as LPG converted cars qualify for a reduced rate based on emissions, and they are also usually exempt from congestion charges, for those doing a lot of city mileage.
Most modern motorcars can be converted to LPG, but obviously this needs to be carried out by fully qualified engineers. There is a regulatory body, the UKLPG, with approved members who have been fully trained and completed qualifications to ensure that their installations comply with safety regulations. You must check that the company you choose are in fact registered to ensure your vehicle can be registered with the UKLPG Scheme, as most insurance companies will want to check your vehicle is on the national Insurance Database. Costs can vary significantly, but expect an initial outlay of GBP900 – GBP2000.
There are further costs to consider – a car fitted with a LPG converter needs to be serviced every 12,000 miles / annually, and you may also find you are given an excess on your insurance. That being said, LPG has a proven safety record, and you may well find that your insurance company offer tor educe your premiums – it is definitely worth putting a call in to check.
Finally, remember that having an LPG conversion will in most cases nullify your manufacturer warranty, so if your car is still under warranty and you are worried about it it might be worth talking to them about finding a way to extend your warranty or take out a new product.