So what does 2014 hold for the LPG motorist and green motoring at large?
For all of you who already enjoy the benefits of fuelling your vehicle with cleaner, cheaper LPG, there is now a bit more certainty about the future than we had at the start of 2013. In his Autumn Statement in 2013, Chancellor George Osborne announced a 10-year commitment to road fuel gases. This is a much longer period of guarantee than we’ve had before, but the work isn’t over. A number of LPG Associations are pressing Treasury to increase its level of support for LPG to match that of other gaseous alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG).
Whatever the outcome of these negotiations, LPG will continue to offer big savings on running costs compared to petrol and diesel. With a recent study by the Institute of Advanced Motorists suggesting that more than half of drivers no longer enjoy driving because of high fuel prices, LPG could even put the smile back on your face behind the wheel.
Elsewhere, what we’d all love to see is a manufacturer having the confidence to put a factory-fit LPG model back on the market in the UK. If one took the first step, others would surely follow. Our European neighbours enjoy a wealth of choice of autogas-fuelled cars straight from the showroom, and we firmly believe that if UK motorists were offered the same option it would prove popular. Research has shown that today we pay more for our motoring in this country than almost anywhere else in the world, so giving people the opportunity to buy cars that cost up to 40 per cent less to fill up seems like a winner to us!
Poor air quality is another increasingly high-profile problem that LPG can help to answer. The EU has revealed plans to introduce more stringent measures to improve our air quality. To give some context to the issue, the EU estimates that expenditure on the effects of air quality was up to €940million in 2010 alone, and resulted in 100 million lost workdays across Europe. A lot of the pollution suffered by cities and in urban areas is contributed to in a big way by nitrous oxide and particulate matter typically found in the tailpipe emissions of some diesel vehicles. LPG produces only a tiny fraction of these harmful pollutants. Imagine if every diesel were replaced by LPG – our inner city air could be as fresh as an Alpine glade!
Meanwhile, ultra-low emission vehicles will continue to scrabble for a foothold in the UK market. Electric certainly has a place and is potentially ideal for urban drivers who only make short journeys. However, there are currently a couple of stumbling blocks to widespread uptake. Firstly, electric models are still prohibitively expensive, even after government grants are taken into account. The low mileage driver who is the perfect electric vehicle customer is therefore unlikely to recoup the big purchase price in fuel cost savings. Another more day-to-day concern is the ever present spectre of ‘range anxiety’. Most EVs have a pretty limited range to begin with – often around 100 to 150 miles – and that is significantly reduced at this time of year when there’s more call for electricity for lights, heating, wipers, heated windscreens and so on. The EV charging infrastructure is also currently lacking – reports suggest that the UK needs 10 times the number of electric charge points that it currently has. Not to mention recent reports that the UK is destined for frequent power cuts if more power stations aren’t built and producing electricity soon.
The conclusion for 2014 is obvious – LPG is the fuel to choose! It’s available to buy now, from a robust and established network of filling stations all over the country. The ‘dual fuel’ set-up means you need never worry about running out of juice. LPG is and will continue to be considerably cheaper than either petrol or diesel at the pumps. Its cleaner-burning environmental credentials are well proven, with lower nitrous oxide and particulate emissions than the two main fuels. So if you’ve not yet converted to the benefits of LPG, what’s stopping you?
Here’s to a successful year ahead – we look forward to seeing you on our forecourt in Edinburgh in 2014!