Liquefied petroleum gas powered car saving priest money amid fuel prices increase

The fuel is only available in select garages and costs €1 per litre

Fr Paul Byrne in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth with his LPG run car. It’s half the price of petrol but only a few garages provide the fuel. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

A parish priest who bought a LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) powered car just two months ago, is now counting his blessings instead of costs as fuel prices soar.

The €1 per litre fuel in his 1998 BMW autogas conversion is making Fr Paul Byrne a major saving at the petrol pumps.

The car needs petrol to initially start the car but once heated the engine converts to the LPG as its primary fuel source.

Fr Byrne, from Termonfeckin, Co Louth believes interest by motorists in LPGs will now rise due to the huge increase in oil, diesel and petrol prices.


“I’m definitely glad when I see the prices going up for petrol on the forecourts that I had a conversion of the fuel rather than spiritual kind,” he says with a laugh.

“I’ve had a passion for classic cars all my life and bought the BMW only two months ago. One of the reasons I went for it is because it was a conversion as the older BMWs tend to be gas guzzlers so I knew this would save fuel costs.”

Converting to LPG costs “in the region of €2,000”, he says. “Another downside is that the conversion also can take up a lot of boot space in the car.”

However, the savings are apparent over time. “ I would reckon it’s more beneficial to people who drive longer trips rather than those living in urban areas.

The car needs petrol to initially start the car but once heated the engine converts to the LPG as its primary fuel source. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

“I have a 50 litre doughnut tank in the spare wheel space of the boot and some of the cylinder tanks can take up more luggage room.

“I suppose it is like an early form of a hybrid car. I can get 50 litres of LPG for €1 a litre and then I also put petrol in the tank.

“The car uses the petrol to heat up the engine but after a few minutes, it kicks into LPG mode. If you are on a journey and the LPG runs out, the car switches back to petrol so you should never be left stranded on the side of the road.

“I put in about €20 worth of petrol two weeks ago and I have probably used less than half of that so far. I’m originally from Newry, Co. Down so I’d travel up and down to home quite a bit which is about 50km.”

According to, there are thousands of Irish motorists with autogas cars. LPG is a naturally occurring byproduct of natural gas extraction and crude oil refining. It cost about 50 per cent less than petrol because the tax levels are much lower, and it releases much less particles and carbon monoxide than other common fossil fuels.