AutoGas has found a niche in the Spanish market and more than 50,000 vehicles are already using this fuel. In addition to private vehicles, this alternative fuel has become an ally of the business world. We speak with Calidad Pascual and the Valencian Taxi Cooperative (Cooperativa Valenciana de Taxistas), which have been using Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in their fleets for many years.
Though “AutoGas” may seem like a recently-invented term, the fuel actually began to be used across Europe several decades ago. As explained by José Pedro Pérez, Chairman of the Cooperativa Valencia de Taxistas, a number of members began to try out the fuel’s benefits forty years ago, though “at the time, the system was no more than a few bottles and there were no bi-fuel tanks like there is today.”
Nearly all vehicles with gasoline engines currently sold on the market can also run on LPG if they are properly converted at an accredited car repair shop. Such conversions involve installing an extra tank in the trunk or the area reserved for the spare tire. As of that moment, one can switch from one tank to the other while driving, hence the name “bi-fuel.”
This conversion will not reduce the car’s storage space and, as the chairman of the cooperative explains, “the extra tank is installed in a place that does not interfere with the use of the vehicle.” Today, 450 of the cooperative’s 800 members use AutoGas and “make savings of up to 40%,” according to the group’s estimates, “thanks to more competitive prices and the fact these vehicles require less maintenance,” says José Pedro Pérez.
The chairman of the cooperative is also a staunch supporter of the use of AutoGas in private cars: “in the 80s, I decided to retire my car, which had already done more than 600,000 miles, and to start using LPG.” It seems he’s not looked back since.
Respect for the environment is another essential reason one should opt for AutoGas. Through its environmental strategy, Calidad Pascual is committed to reducing pollutant emissions, and one of the initiatives the company has been pursuing with determination for years involves the use of green transport.
To this end, they have signed agreements with Repsol and automobile companies that have allowed them to become the “largest fleet of sustainable vehicles in Europe”. This is something the Asociación Española de Gestores de Flota (Spanish Association of Automobile Fleet Managers, AEGFA) acknowledges with its yearly awards for companies that invest in efficient transport.
In the words of José Carlos Espeso, Mobility coordinator for the Spanish food company, “70% of the vehicles used by the food company are already operating with this fuel. This allows them to make savings of about 15% and increase the driving range of their vehicles, particularly in the case of trucks, that can travel as far as 280 miles with AutoGas and an additional 250 on the gasoline tank.”
Whenever there’s talk of AutoGas, one of the first questions to come up among users is: Will I have to spend more money and time to maintain my car? The truth is that it does not require any more than a traditional vehicle. “The car only needs to have the same services and receive the same maintenance a normal car does,” Calidad Pascual’s Mobility manager explains.
While the food company converted much of its fleet of vehicles in 2010, the Cooperativa Valenciana de Taxistas decided to implement the process with greater resolve in 2004 and today, as members of the cooperative tell us, they have six supply points of their own and guarantee nationwide coverage thanks to Repsol supply points — something which, as José Pedro Pérez puts it, “deeply reassures users”.