Will London Mayor Boris Johnson drive Autogas onto the rank?

Mayor Johnson proposed a grant scheme that pays out between £1,000 and £2,000 to owners of older, more polluting diesels who swap their car for a model with cleaner tailpipe emissions.

While the general idea of reversing the last decade’s shift towards diesel power is worth supporting, more needs to be done to educate and encourage drivers to adopt cleaner alternative fuels, including Autogas.

In a recent statement Autogas UK Ltd suggested that Boris Johnson should have gone further by considering Autogas in his plans to clean up London’s air. Proven and widely available, Autogas is the ideal alternative fuel to make a difference to local air quality here and now, alongside ongoing support for emerging clean fuel technologies. Asian cities like Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokio have long understood this, as almost all taxi cabs there run on the clean fuel. The JPN taxi concept, a hybrid-electric Autogas taxi exhibited at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, is a prime example of modern solutions for unlocking the full potential of LP Gas as a clean fuel for the future.

engining programs like the special program by Jaymic Ltd in Aldborough, Norfolk, which back in 2007 had specialised on bumping London’s iconic black cab from polluting diesel up to newer LP Gas powered versions conforming to Euro 3 standard. This concept is not unprecedented: Last month British government awarded a number of successful UK local authority bids a total of £5 million in financial backing from its Clean Vehicle Technology Fund. Among those granted funding Birmingham City Council managed to have 10% of the total funding allocated to its program, which will convert 80 of the city’s taxis to run on cleaner Autogas. A program replicating the earlier success of 2007 with the newer technology of the current model black cabs.

Ideally more cities would follow Birmingham’s lead in championing Autogas, taxi fleets being an ideal starting place. With their movements typically consisting of short urban journeys and frequent stops, taxis are perfectly suited to life on cleaner, cheaper Autogas – a life that is equally ill-suited to more polluting diesels. The scrapping grant should thus be also made available for re-engining existing vehicles to cleaner technology.

Autogas produces up to 50 times fewer oxides of nitrogen and 120 times less harmful small particulate matter than the diesel that currently fuels almost 97 per cent of UK taxis (as well as most taxis in other European countries), encouraging operators to switch to LPG vehicles could make a significant positive difference to the air quality of the inner city. The bonus of a pump price nearly half that of diesel, and no more worries about costly replacements of clogged DPF filters should speak for themselves!