How to get your hands on an LPG car

Petrol pump
Motorists are being warned that a ‘perfect storm’ could be on the horizon, as a weakened pound and an increase in the wholesale cost of oil means that petrol prices could set to rise once more – so maybe it’s time to switch to a cheaper alternative, such as LPG. For those of you that don’t know, LPG is a naturally occurring by-product of natural gas extraction and crude oil refining that can be liquefied under modest pressure or cooling and used to power converted combustion engines. A cleaner burning fuel, LPG has lower emission outputs than both petrol and diesel, which means that it’s better for the environment, better for your engine and, crucially, better for your bank balance as it subject to a much lower level of duty than other types of fuel. This means that the cost of a litre of LPG is sometimes as low as half the price of a litre of unleaded, as I found out when I recently filled up my LPG-powered motor…

 

However, as well as being a cleaner burning fuel, it’s also a faster burning fuel which means that it’s generally around 15% less fuel efficient than both petrol and diesel - but at half the cost it’s estimated that most motorists can still save up to 40% on their fuel costs. This loss in fuel efficiency also means that you'll have to make more trips to the pumps, and although not available on every forecourt, there are over 1,400 filling stations across the UK so finding one nearby shouldn't be too much of a problem. If you're unsure as to where your nearest LPG stockist is, check the interactive map below:

Sounds good, but getting your hands on one is perhaps not as straightforward as it should be… Buying a car that is already LPG enabled All across Europe, cars powered with factory-fitted LPG systems are available directly from the showrooms of more than 20 different vehicle manufacturers – all across Europe except the UK that is. If you’re looking to buy new, then you’ll be offered all sorts of eco-friendly vehicles, from electric cars to fuel-efficient diesels (although never take the advertised fuel efficiency of a vehicle at face value) but not one that runs on LPG.

And although Ford announced plans to introduce an LPG version of the Fiesta almost 12 months ago, none have made their way onto any of the UK’s forecourts. This means that you would have to buy a standard petrol powered car and then have it converted using a UKLPG-approved installer which could add as much as £2,000 – and although you will eventually recoup this through cheaper running costs, the last thing you want to do once you’ve bought a new car is lose if for a few days to have it tampered with. Instead, you could buy a second hand car that has already had the work done and this is something I did shortly after I was converted to LPG after taking an Autogas car for a week-long test drive.

Although I had a limited budget of around £1,000 (considerably less than the cost of installation) I was able to pick up a 1999 Ford Focus, with 120,000 miles on the clock, a long MOT and a fully-fitted LPG-system, complete with approved certificate, for under £800. The best news, though, is that I’ve still managed to not blow it up, as I have done with my two previous cars! Alternatively, you could get a system fitted to your current vehicle, provided it has a petrol engine as conversions can’t be carried out on diesels. For more information on LPG, and to see how my week in an LPG car went, watch the short video below… 

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