Spain: the Autogas market takes off
Spain: the Autogas market takes off
By Armando Jorge Viçoso, Regulatory Affairs, Repsol
The Autogas market in Spain has experienced rapid growth over the last few years, thanks to favourable environmental policies, public incentives for the usage of Autogas and increased availability of Autogas at service stations around the country. As a result, a growing number of carmakers are now marketing factory-built Autogas versions of popular models to meet the growth in demand.
Around 2 000 taxis are now running on Autogas in the main cities across Spain’s 14 autonomous regions and the number is growing by the day. More than 10% of the taxis that are replaced each year in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid are now powered by Autogas.
Policies, incentives and foundations agreements
As a result of the Spanish National Plan for Improving the Air Quality and EU directives on air quality and clean vehicles, the autonomous regional authorities and the central government have developed various subsidy and incentive programmes to encourage the take-up of clean vehicles – including those powered by Autogas. These include the development of green areas, variable motorway tolls according to traffic congestion and reduced tolls for low-emission vehicles, restrictions on certain types of vehicle during periods of severe pollution, incentives for taxis and subsidies for the purchase of green vehicles and retrofits of existing vehicle to run on Autogas and other clean fuels. For example, the Institute for Energy Diversification and Savings (IDEA) – a state body under the State Secretariat for Energy of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism – has allocated since 2006 a total of €50 million to support green vehicles.
Growth in the refueling network
The expansion of the refuelling network continues apace. During 2011, Repsol – Spain’s leading fuel retailer – introduced Autogas in 38 more service stations, increasing the total number of stations where the fuel is available to 80 (see the map below). In October 2011, Repsol announced plans to add Autogas to 400 more stations by 2015 – growth of more than 100 new Autogas stations per year. By 2015, Repsol aims to cover 70% of the Spanish population.
Helping people with reduced mobility
One indication of the growing demand for Autogas is the first Caddy Maxi Bi-fuel LPG car to be adapted to people with reduced mobility, developed by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in collaboration with Repsol and the National Organization of Spanish blind people (Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles, or ONCE) and with the support of the Foundation for Accessibility (Fundosa Accesibilidad) and Caradap (a company it owns). This modification allows the back of the vehicle to be used as a Eurotaxi (a taxi designed or adapted for people with reduced mobility). Fundosa Accesibilidad has already acquired 10 such vehicles for use as taxis.
The LPG Caddy Maxi Bi-fuel is equipped with a 1.6 engine and four cylinders, producing 102 horsepower. Using Autogas, the Caddy consumes only 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres and emits 171 grammes of CO2 emissions per kilometre, compared with consumption of 8.2 litres and 191 grammes for the equivalent gasoline-powered version. With both fuel tanks full, the vehicle can run for 950 km without refuelling and 400 km alone on Autogas. With Autogas prices at the pump a lot lower than those of gasoline, the savings in fuel costs will be substantial.
Demand for taxis that can accept wheelchairs is expected to grow strongly in the coming years, providing a commercial opportunity for such Autogas-powered vehicles. Under current laws, all the regional authorities must ensure that at least 5% of licensed taxis are adapted for people with reduced mobility by 2017.
The switch to Autogas in ambulances is gaining pace too. At present, there are around 200 ambulances running on Autogas in Spain, consuming around 1 800 tonnes per year. In September 2009, Repsol signed an agreement with the National Federation of Ambulance Companies (ANEA), whose members own over 90% of the ambulance fleet, and Mecedes Benz, which produces the Autogas-powered Sprinter model. A recent development is the launch of retrofitted Autogas ambulances in the autonomous region of Asturias. In addition, Repsol and the group “Ambulancias MP” signed an agreement on promoting the use of Autogas in ambulances in Andalucía.
New Original Equipment Manufactuer (OEM) models
The growing interest in Autogas and the expansion of the refuelling network has encouraged a number of OEMs to commercialise Autogas models in Spain and some of them to set up local production facilities. Examples of models recently launched in Spain are SEAT’s three LPG offerings with 1.6 litre engines (Altea, Toledo and Ibiza). Subaru has also launched the Outback 2.5 litre LPG model. Another new model that has just come onto the Spanish market is the Opel Corsa 1.2 LPG Tech (see the related story in this edition of Autogas Updates). Examples of the full range of OEM Autogas vehicles on offer in Spain are shown below.
Three carmakers have also established production centres in Spain:
Volkswagen, which produces the Polo model.
SEAT, which produces the Altea XL and the Ibiza.
Renault, which produces Renault and Dacia models.
For more information about how the Autogas market in Spain is expanding, you can reach Armando by email at: email@example.com