LPG Fuelled Cars in Spain
With the price of LPG at around half that of diesel or petrol, many people in Europe see it as a viable alternative to reduce motoring costs. We’ve taken a look at the situation in Spain to help you decide whether you should consider buying a new LPG-ready car or converting your current vehicle.
What is LPG?
Liquefied petroleum gas, or Autogas, is a natural gas and a bi-product of the oil refining process. According to Wikipedia “LPG has a lower energy density than either petrol or fuel-oil, so the equivalent fuel consumption is higher”, however this increased consumption is offset by the lower cost.
LPG is also said to be “greener” than petrol or diesel, although some emissions are still present.
In Spain until 2007 LPG could not be used in vehicles for private use. With the change in the law, progress was slow until the last couple of years when consumers have started to consider LPG cars as a viable alternative to petrol or diesel.
In Spain LPG fuelled vehicles are allowed in underground car parks, but this is not the case in some other European countries. Currently these cars are not allowed into the Channel Tunnel either.
Why Should I Use It?
The upward spiral of fuel costs during the past few years has meant that expenditure in this area has increased considerably for households in Europe. LPG prices are around half that of diesel or petrol and therefore, once the initial costs have been recovered, savings can be significant for car owners that cover a lot of km per year.
Which Cars Can Use LPG?
Some models are available to buy already prepared for LPG such as: Alfa Romeo Giulietta; Dacia Sandero, Logan and Duster; Fiat 500, Panda, Punto and Bravo; Opel Corsa and Seat Ibiza and Altea. The cost of these cars is between 1000 and 2000 euros higher than the petrol equivalent model. Alternatively you could have your current car (petrol only, not diesel) adapted to use LPG, at a cost of around 2000€. If you do consider having your car converted to LPG, remember to check the warranty that comes with the installation – some places may offer up to 5 years – and also make sure it doesn’t invalidate your warranty with the car manufacturer.
Many regions in Spain offer a reduction on the local vehicle tax (IVTM) of up to 75% and in Catalunya the toll roads offer discounted rates to drivers of LPG cars.
There is also a plan for LPG cars to be given a green sticker, the same as the one seen on electric cars, which will allow them to circulate in restricted urban areas and to pay lower taxes.
Of course, not everything is good news. You’ll have to take the following into account when considering whether to change over to LPG:
- You’ll need to cover between 30,000 to 50,000 km to recover the initial incremental cost, before you start to notice any savings. Depending on your circumstances this could be anywhere between two to four years.
- If you convert your current vehicle you’ll be left with less space in the boot for luggage.
- Additional servicing, and cost, for the LPG system is required (however, experts cite that LPG cars are cheaper to maintain overall).
- And the major issue for drivers of LPG vehicles in Spain is that in some areas the number of locations to refuel is very limited.
Where Can I Find More Info?
Take a look at MyLPG.eu and use their calculator to see how long it would take you to start saving money based on your own circumstances. This site also offers information about where to find LPG suppliers across Europe, as well as a route planner. You’ll be able to see that currently there are only around 300 locations in Spain where LPG is available compared with over 2000 in France or Italy. Repsol are planning to have around 400 locations with LPG available by the end of 2015 and it is estimated that in 2 to 3 years the total number of locations in Spain could reach 1000.
Related posts: Buying Used and New Cars in Spain