A gas idea that might just gain traction in Irish motoring
“This means that someone who is spending just €40 a week on petrol today will have made their money back in reduced fuel costs in a year, after which they will be saving themselves a grand a year.”
Some industry sources express concern that conversions are harder to resell and that a large tank in the boot is a drawback.
Not so, according to Spaniczek. “These are fifth-generation conversions and because they are dual fuel, I think they increase the resale value.
“Also we have an option which can see the tank fitted where the spare tyre goes so you would not even notice it was there.”
Ed McDonnell is the head of the Irish LPG Association. He says one of the reasons LPG has not taken off in Ireland is that the two main providers – Calor Gas and FloGas – got badly stung the first time it was introduced.
They spent millions building up an infrastructure across the country in the 1980s but consumers did not back the new fuel because in many cases diesel was actually cheaper.
“We had the best infrastructure per capita in Europe and we had filling stations all over the country but it stopped being attractive to consumers because of high costs,” he says.
“Things have changed completely now. From the consumer’s point of view LPG is very attractive. But there are two pieces of the puzzle that need to be put in place: the providers need to throw their weight behind growth in the area and the Government needs to offer them some support.”
He says this support would not even be have to be financial: a commitment from the Revenue not to increase the excise due on LPG for a period of 10 years to allow the business to develop would be enough.
“It costs between €10,000 and €20,000 to fit out a forecourt with an LPG pump and if the companies were to do that I think they would need assurances from the Government that the business would be allowed to grow.”
PJ Stedman switched his Jeep from petrol to dual fuel six months ago and saw his fuel bills fall dramatically. “I did it purely for the savings,” he says.
“I wouldn’t have bothered but for the amount of money involved. The whole process is fully automatic. You start her on petrol and run her on that for a bit until she warms up after which she switches automatically to the LPG.”
He is convinced that more people should make the switch.
“There is a problem here: the gas suppliers are not rolling out enough pumps on the forecourts. Across Europe it is much easier to find garages.”
A decade ago Dublin Bus flirted with LPG but ultimately rejected it despite a three-year study showing the move would produce less exhaust and noise emissions than diesel engines.
It concluded that the conversion of existing vehicles to gas power was not a viable option “due to financial, reliability and safety implications”.
Some countries prioritise the use of LPG and some governments offer the industry greater support than our Government does.
Almost all taxies in Hong Kong run on LPG models and six years ago driving a diesel taxi there became illegal.
According to the government there, a properly maintained LPG engine reduces pollution by anywhere between 50 per cent and 200 per cent.
LPG taxis also make up the majority of the cab fleet in Australia.
The Belgian government applies a zero rate of excise duty on the fuel, while Italy provides incentives up to 75 per cent of the cost of converting private vehicles over to the fuel.
France, meanwhile, offers grants of up to €2,000 for conversions of cars which are less than three years old.
ALTERNATIVE TRAVEL: SHARE A CAR
Forget about LPG and electricity and petrol and diesel: the cheapest way to run a car is not to run one at all.
Relax! We are not suggesting that you do without four wheels altogether, but there is a way you can stay (occasionally) on the road for a lot less.
Welcome to GoCar, a car-sharing scheme operating in Dublin and Cork, which continues to grow after a successful pilot in the southern city more than three years ago.
Think of it as the four-wheel equivalent of the Dublin bike scheme. Users sign up to the service through the website gocar.ieand get access to fleet of of Ford Fiestas, Focuses and Transit vans around the city.
They can book a car 24 hours a day, seven days a week from about €5.75 per hour with additional charges added per kilometre travelled.