Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)

LPG, or Liquefied Petroleum Gas, is a mixture of hydrocarbon gases manufactured during the refining of crude oil, or extracted from oil or gas streams as they emerge from the ground. Also known as Autogas, LPG is widely used as an environmentally friendly automotive fuel, as it produces significantly less emissions than petrol (including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen). LPG also emits 90% less particulates, in weight, than diesel engines.

In the UK, autogas consists principally of propane, and is the third most-used fuel after petrol and diesel. The Government has offered a range of incentives to encourage motorists to convert to LPG, including lower vehicle excise duty (road tax) and company car tax. LPG is also relatively inexpensive to buy (about half the price of petrol), as it attracts a lower fuel duty. However, this cheaper price is off-set slightly by the fact that cars achieve 80% fewer miles per gallon with LPG than they would with petrol or diesel.

Most cars powered by LPG in the UK are hybrid vehicles, with tanks for both LPG and petrol. These vehicles are designed to start up using the petrol system, after which the gas system cuts in and takes over. There are a number of these hybrid cars available commercially available, including the Volvo S80, the Vauxhall Corsa and the Mitsubishi Shogun, amongst many others. The majority of standard petrol vehicles can also be converted to use LPG for around £1,600; a second independent fuel system with its own tank is added to the car, often in place of the spare wheel or underneath the vehicle.

There are currently more than 1,200 LPG refuelling stations in the UK, with numbers increasing all the time.