DobloDespite falling oil prices, switching from oil to LPG could save couriers a fortune, and dramatically reduce their carbon footprint.

Despite the current fall in oil prices, propane (LPG) pricing has proved historically to be consistently lower per litre than diesel or petrol, Even with the current dip in oil prices, the expectation is that in the medium and long term the price differential between oil and LPG will constantly increase, so the savings to be made by switching will continue to grow.

For many, the financial savings of LPG will be the most important, but the logistics industry is seeing more and more companies converting to LPG for green reasons too.

The biggest reason that businesses still use diesel run vehicles is a lack of awareness that there is a cheaper, greener alternative, or because they are under the misconception that switching is expensive or difficult. However, once they’ve seen how much they can save, and how easy the process is, the conversion quickly follows.

With more and more questions being raised about the harmful emissions from diesel engines, LPG specialist Autogas is making a bid to talk up the benefits of gas power and on paper it looks a convincing tale.

Autogas will convert anything with a petrol engine – you have to buy your own van and get it converted at an Autogas site – there will be 20 altogether in the UK by the end of the year. As part of the conversion you get display on the dash with a row of green lights to show how much gas is in the tank and a site directory telling you where you can buy LPG.

The van we had on test was Fiat Doblo Cargo Maxi priced at £14,846 ex-VAT add on the conversion cost of £1,450 ex-VAT gives you a total outlay of £16,296 before VAT. Autogas reckons the van will cost 10p per mile running on gas and 17p per mile on petrol, so according to our calculations, the conversion should pay for itself after 20,000 miles, for a sameday courier that should be roughly 18-20 weeks. Switching from gas to petrol is done without a whisper. We tried changing between the fuels a few times while on the move and the engine didn’t even miss a beat.

We’ve already mentioned the fuel savings but might as well reiterate them as they are pretty spectacular. After 60,000 miles or 14 months whichever comes first, by subtracting the cost of the conversion, a sameday courier could save £2,800 in fuel alone. On the emissions front the conversion scores highly. CO2 is down 17%, NOX is down 20% and there are no particulate emissions as with diesel engines.

We don’t drive many petrol vans nowadays and it is astonishing how much smoother and quieter they are with petrol engines under the bonnet rather than diesel ones. And under way with gas, the story is the same.

The conversion comes with a fuel station directory showing where all the LPG refuelling sites are in the UK. There are 1,400 of them altogether and with the option of filling with petrol if necessary, you shouldn’t run out of fuel.

As stated above, Autogas can only convert petrol vans, which cuts out the conversion of any larger vans as no-one makes petrol-powered 3.5-tonners. However, with all the talk at present regarding emissions from diesel vans, some manufacturers like Fiat, Ford, Citroen and Peugeot are now offering petrol alternatives in their smaller vans.

Volkswagen is rumoured to be offering a 1.4-litre petrol variant when the new Caddy arrives later this year. Incidentally, Mercedes-Benz offers a petrol-powered Sprinter ready converted for CNG and Autogas is at present in talks with the manufacturer in a bid to get them to put the petrol version on the price list for LPG conversion too.

Already, 150,000 drivers across the UK benefit from driving on autogas LPG, which as well as emitting fewer harmful pollutants, also helps users slash their fuel bills, isn’t it time you switched.