Exclusive Interview on Autogas with Bart van Aerle, Vice President, Prins Autogassystemen
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1. What are the benefits of Autogas (LPG as a transport fuel) compared to conventional fuels?
Certainly, its environmental benefits come to mind first. Autogas is a byproduct of oil refining and natural gas extraction that can be used as a transport fuel. At the tailpipe, the fuel is much cleaner than traditional fuels. And with the latest direct injection technology, the engine is even more fuel efficient.
Another great advantage is that compared to petrol, the Octane number is higher, meaning more power but with less emissions.
Besides the significant environmental and performance benefits, the main reason why customers choose Autogas is its affordability. It is much cheaper than conventional fuels without any loss of performance.
2. How can it support governments’ wider sustainable transport goals?
Several studies, research and publications clearly demonstrate that there is no silver bullet, so different energy pathways are needed to reduce CO2 and pollutant emissions. Autogas contributes to lowering CO2 emissions by up to 21% and particles up to 95%. That is quite a contribution I would say, especially given the fact that this technology is available now for the millions of cars on the roads today, which can easily and cost-effectively be converted to run on Autogas. So in countries where Autogas is not popular yet, the contribution towards emission reductions will be even greater.
3. As we know, Autogas is the number one alternative fuel in the world. However, 70% of global demand is concentrated in just 10 countries. What’s holding back demand in other markets?
Autogas has been in use for a long time – over 70 years. The success of the market depends heavily on government support, including regulations, fuel taxations policy and oil prices.
4. How might regulation improve uptake, and are governments doing enough to support it?
As a result of different factors, including increasing public awareness, and policymaking, we are seeing a new paradigm for corporations towards more sustainable and transparent business practice, which is a great thing.
However, businesses need certainty to survive and regulations should be set for longer periods of time so that investments that are made can be secured. In the Netherlands for example, governments tend to change policy after every election or when an initiative becomes too successful. This creates confusion for businesses and consumers who become unsure of what car they should buy.
5. The Autogas Day initiative first started with a local edition in 2018 in the Netherlands. What is the biggest takeaway from that event?
Autogas Day indeed started in the Netherlands as the need for making positive noise in the market was necessary. The Dutch market has been in decline for several years. If nothing is done, the market will likely disappear in a few years. Investments in infrastructure need to be renewed and the number of conversion centers is in decline as well. All the great benefits of driving on Autogas will be gone and the employment of thousands of people in the sector as well if we don’t act fast. Therefore, all the market players connected through the Dutch association and set up the national Autogas Day. Now we are working together to kick-off international Autogas Day during the 32nd World LPG Forum & European Congress taking place in Amsterdam this September
The biggest takeaway from the local edition last year is that we managed as a group to work together to reach out to hundreds of thousands of people that normally are not in contact with Autogas, broadening our reach and amplifying the positive messages around Autogas. As a result, the market now seems stable and even growing a bit this year. This is a positive example or how to reinvigorate an existing market and so we encourage faith and teamwork among our partners in other markets to implement similar initiatives to ensure the long-term success of this important industry
6. How has the industry progressed since the fuel was first used in the 1940s and what lies ahead for the sector?
Since 1940’s, we have been following the technological developments in the automotive industry and the related emission requirements, including Euro 6 and WLTP.
From the carburetor -> single point injection -> multipoint port injection -> direct injection and now engines with a combined port and direct injection technology, always proving our ability to innovate and that our technology development is featured in the latest models on the market today.
We are now seeing Autogas establishing itself in emerging markets around the world. Different countries, regions and cities are realising the opportunity to cost-effectively reduce the carbon and pollution footprint of transport with Autogas today. In the future, BioLPG, a sustainable and renewable fuel with even greater emission potential can play an important role in the long-term.