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Autogas--the industry's "third fuel" of choice.

OEMs and governments are being encouraged to make greater use of LP Gas as a proven and cleaner alternative to petroleum and diesel by the Paris-based World LP Gas Association (WLPGA).

It says the use of Autogas has been growing steadily during the past 10 years, with volumes almost doubling. To support this growth, WLPGA formed the Global Automotive Industry Network (GAIN), with Inigo Palacio Prada as its chairman. He is also the bulk LP Gas and Autogas marketing manager for Repsol in Spain.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Prada how widespread the use of Autogas is.

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Prada: Last year 14.6 million road vehicles worldwide used Autogas, making LP Gas the third fuel of choice for motorists.

AI: Which manufacturers are producing Autogas engines?

Prada: In Australia, one out of every three cars that Ford produces is an Autogas vehicle. General Motors is also planning to introduce an Autogas version of its Cruze medium sized sedan in Europe later this year, as it already does with the rest of the Chevrolet models. Fiat offers LP Gas versions of its most common models. VW has launched a new LP Gas Golf version and all Korean manufacturers lead the Autogas market with dedicated LP Gas models, even hybrid ones (Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte).

AI: What about electric cars?

Prada: Although the number of electric vehicles is growing more quickly than anyone could have predicted just a few years ago, the reality is that traditional automotive fuels will continue to be widely used for many years to come. There are also opportunities emerging for LP Gas to be used in hybrid applications with electricity. Autogas can be successfully combined with electricity, as Kia does with its new Forte Hybrid-LPG, and Hyundai with its new Elantra.

AI: What does GAIN do?

Prada: GAIN represents just one part of the complex group of stakeholders that are needed to grow the Autogas business worldwide. For a successful Autogas business there has to be support not only from vehicle manufactures, but also Government, equipment manufacturers, consumers, lawmakers and all other stakeholders.

AI: How does Autogas compare with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)?

Prada: CNG is a fine automotive fuel, but it is very different to Autogas. The low-pressure liquefaction of LP Gas means that both on-site and on-vehicle storage is relatively inexpensive, and unlike CNG there is virtually no noise during the filling operation. Because it can be economically transported in its liquid state, LP Gas is readily distributed directly to users and marketed alongside gasoline and diesel in virtually any location. CNG distribution is generally restricted to the natural gas grid. Vehicles running on CNG have a restricted range because of the additional weight of the storage tank and the limited amount of energy that can be stored.

AI: Is Autogas safe?

Prada: Autogas has been around for a very long time and the experience in the industry has built up over the decades has led to a very safe track record. Take the storage tank: It is built to withstand vehicle impact at high speed--something that gasoline and diesel tanks are not designed to do. Over the years sensible standards and codes of practice have been developed and nowadays a country wishing to introduce Autogas for the first time has many good best practices to apply from other countries.

AI: Does Autogas perform as well as gasoline and diesel?

Prada: In Spain, Repsol has been working closely with driving schools to change their fleets from diesel to Autogas. Driving schools would not be prepared to do that if their customers complained about performance.

AI: How can Autogas be called an 'alternative' when it is a fossil fuel?

Prada: Autogas stands between compressed natural gas (CNG) and gasoline and diesel in terms of carbon content. Consequently it delivers significant C[O.sub.2] benefits compared with the liquid fuels and in its unburned form it is essentially greenhouse neutral. We believe it behaves more like an alternative to traditional engine fuels and therefore we talk about it as such. The WLPGA published a comparative study last year that demonstrated the lower-carbon properties of LP Gas.

AI: Will there be enough LP Gas to meet the increased demand?

Prada: There is plenty of LP Gas for decades to come. Natural gas fields continue to be developed around the world ensuring a good source of LP Gas for the foreseeable future.

AI: What are the countries where Autogas is most popular?

Prada: The top ten countries are South Korea, Turkey, Poland, Japan, Australia, Russian Federation, Italy, Mexico, Thailand and the USA. Autogas is also popular in smaller countries like Hong Kong where it was introduced in 1995. Now all of Hong Kong's taxis run on dedicated Autogas vehicles, and the impact on local air quality in the city has been phenomenal. Fifteen years ago the streets of Hong Kong were impacted by diesel emissions, but nowadays you can breathe easily there.

AI: Why is Autogas so successful in these countries?

Prada: First of all a successful Autogas business needs government support to encourage people to convert their cars. This can be in the form of grants for conversions combined with fiscal incentives to ensure the price per liter of Autogas is around half that of petrol, or even that of diesel. This will encourage a sustained Autogas business because it provides the consumer with the financial incentive to switch. The advantages for society are improved local air quality and lower health costs.

AI: How can the industry promote the use of LP Gas?

Prada: Get in touch with the GAIN network by contacting the WLPGA. You can do that through the web site at www.worldlpgas.com. We are keen to assist in spreading the word about Autogas and if there is anything we can do to encourage this wonderful third fuel to become more popular around the world we will do it. The benefits are there to be seen. Cleaner air quality, lower carbon emissions, lower health costs and more efficient motoring; all without any loss of performance.

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Title Annotation:innovation; Inigo Palacio Prada from Global Automotive Industry Network
Author:Knox, Jon
Publication:Automotive Industries
Article Type:Interview
Date:Sep 22, 2009
Words:1020
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