LPG hybrid cars supported in France
The French provision that was introduced some time ago to encourage use of low-emission vehicles, has been changed lately to incorporate LPG-electric hybrids. Specifically speaking, the regulation concerns microhybrids and mild hybrids whose combustion engines emit 61-110 grams of CO2 per km. Replacing petrol with autogas will also contribute to cutting emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.
Autogas technology is ripe and reliable enough to be combined with other fuel-saving and emissions-cutting drivetrain technologies, including electric drive. And, of course, LPG in a hybrid setup also helps reduce the running costs since in most countries where it is available it is priced at half the price of petrol. The problem is that LPG-electric cars are few and far between – Hyundai and Kia are known to have offered the Elantra LPI HEV and Forte LPI Hybrid, respectively, since 2009 in their home market (South Korea), but none are currently available in Europe.
According to the OPECST (Office Parlementaire d'Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques – French Parliamentary Office for Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices), LPG should be officially promoted in France to the same extent as electric vehicles (EVs) are today.
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 are 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.
Joël Pedessac, managing director, French LPG Association (Comité Français du Butane et du Propane)
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