LPG-electric hybrids eligible for grants in France
French regulation on incentives for the purchase and operation of environmentally friendly vehicles was modified (Décret n° 2014-1672) to include Autogas-electric hybrids in the bonus specified for hybrid electric vehicles. The bonus aims to encourage owners, renters and, under certain conditions, also at automotive professionals to purchase or lease of more environmentally friendly vehicles. Vehicles with less than 60 gCO2/km (less than 90 gCO2/km during a transitional phase) are eligible for financial support. The regulation also applies to hybrids that combine electric power and internal combustion engines fuelled with gasoline or diesel and since January 1st also LPG or natural gas, provided they emit less than 110 gCO2/km. Unfortunately this regulation does not take pollutants into account neither does it look at the actual driving emissions.
Autogas technology is mature and flexible and allows it to be combined with other alternative drivetrain technologies for combined environmental and economic benefits: less CO2 (*), less air pollution and reduced fuel costs than with a hybrid electric / gasoline or diesel considering Autogas is sold at 0.83 cents per litre.
Manufacturers like Hyundai, Kia and Toyota already rely on this innovative technology and several LPG-electric models have been launched in their home markets since 2007. In Korea and Japan, public authorities encourage the combination of hybrid electric and Autogas to combat urban air pollution.
Joël Pedessac, Managing Director of the French LPG Association – Comité Français du Butane et du Propane comments, “The decree reinstates Autogas, a first step which we welcome, but it is important to continue supporting alternative fuels in order to increase their uptake. Public support is essential for the development of Autogas.
The specific bonuses established to encourage the development of alternative energy have shown evidence of their effectiveness. The issue of improving the air quality is not only to reduce CO2 emissions. It is much broader and must integrate pollutants such as particulates and nitrous oxides, which is known to be harmful to the health. In order to further develop the use of alternative fuels, it is important to focus the bonus on alternative energy sources only (LPG, electric, hybrid, CNG and E85) and stabilize the bonus until the end of 2017.
In its report “Les nouvelles mobilités sereines et durables” the French Parliamentary Office for Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices (OPECST) recommends that Autogas should receive benefits and communication efforts similar to those implemented by the government to promote electric vehicles. It is necessary to inform users about the different solutions for a sustainable mobility based on their needs and means, to reassure industrialists in their choices and thus to support the development of all alternative pathways”.
(*) In 2005, CFBP and RMGaz developed an Autogas-electric prototype hybrid vehicle, based on a Toyota Prius II model. Tests conducted by IFP revealed that the vehicle produces only 92 grams of CO2 per km, or 11.5 % less than the Prius gasoline (104 gCO2/km).