Global Autogas Summit 2014 - points of view
The World LPG Forum's great advantage is its, well, worldwide character. It traditionally gathers specialists from all around the globe and this year's edition's added value was no doubt location in the US, where interest in autogas as affordable and eco-friendly motor fuel soars probably faster than anywhere in the world at the moment. During the summit attendees could listen from European, American and Asian companies mainly, but the voice of Africa is becoming louder, too. What exactly was discussed in Miami? Read and you shall find out.
The summit kicked off with a representative of Prins presenting the company's cutting-edge technologies, such as the liquid state direct autogas injection for petrol engines and the Dieselblend for converting large oil-burning units in commercial vehicles to partially run on LPG. Next up was a speaker from Roush CleanTech, an American manufacturer of technologically advanced autogas systems. The company's leading position in the US is probably best demonstrated through the number 200 thousand, which stands for school children having ridden to schools in LPG-powered buses featuring Roush CleanTech systems from the summit's first session's beginning until the end of the company's presentation. There are over 14 thousand such buses on American roads today.
Autogas system manufacturers are just one group present during the summit, though, as there were also, among others, autogas practitioners present there, including LPG-powered vehicle fleet managers. One such manager was Tom Armstrong, responsible for a fleet of service vehicles running on autogas. Interestingly, the fleet does not return to base at the end of the day (typically, in the US LPG-converted fleets are refueled at a company's HQ due to insufficient infrastructure of public stations), which poses something of a challenge. This has been resolved in two ways: by establishing private refueling stations outside of the company's premises and by equipping the vehicles with extra autogas tank capacity. This way the cars don't need to cover „empty” miles just to get refueled.
Repsol, the Spanish oil company, presented the results of its research project concerning conversion of direct-injected petrol engines to autogas, conducted with input from e. g. AVL and Delphi. An LPG system has been designed that can be used by car manufacturers as an off-the-shelf solution and fitted to cars right on the assembly line, with minimal additional logistics effort involved. Hopefully the idea will catch on with car manufacturers and we think it definitely could, given current trends and tendencies in autogas perception.
The second session of the summit was a panel discussion involving industry representatives, independent scientists and attendees, who were given time to ask their questions. General conclusion is this: renewable LPG should be more widely promoted and effort should be put into further enhancing the image of autogas among politicians and general public. As agreed by the participants of the discussion, raising awareness isn't enough and more direct actions – including marketing and advertising – are necessary. As usual, the discussion remains open and to be continued during the Korean Autogas Summit, scheduled for January 29, 2015.
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