LPG CONVERSION: Owen Salmon has converted four vehicles to use LPG and claims he has saved thousands over a decade. Image: Newspress
LONDON, England - Usually when one thinks of a car converted to use cheaper liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), a fuel-guzzling 4x4 or a large sedan comes to mind. Owen Salmon’s LPG car history proves that needn’t be the case, as he performed conversions on a pocket rocket Rover Metro and a Daewoo Matiz.
The financial saving potential of LPG first attracted Owen when he converted his sporty Rover Metro GTA in the early 2000s. Since then he has covered more than 160 000km on LPG and has saved, he claims, the equivalent of more than R100 000, nearly halving the fuel costs for his already frugal cars.
Salmon's Mitsubishi Colt is his fourth LPG autogas-powered vehicle.
'WHY PAY WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE TO'
He said: “People have always asked me why I run small cars on LPG. They say ‘you must be getting at least 5 litres/100km’ but because I run LPG I get the equivalent of 3.5 or 3.1 litres/100km. My view is why pay for something you don’t have to, and my cost savings from using LPG are absolutely amazing.”
Of his four LPG cars, Owen has had three converted himself to run on the cheaper fuel and bought one with a kit already installed. Even taking into account the cost of an LPG conversion – typically around R17 000 – Salmon has still soon managed to start counting the savings.
Salmon said: “When I converted my Suzuki Jimny, I kept a detailed spreadsheet of what it cost every time I filled up, and what it would have cost on petrol, to see how quickly the difference broke even with what I’d paid for the conversion.
“After four months I’d broken even!”
Salmon’s Matiz, which he purchased pre-converted, saved him money: “I bought it with 88 000km on the clock and took it up to about 144000km.
“Returning 4.3 litres/100km at LPG prices meant the running costs really were negligible and I didn’t have a single problem running on gas. It’s probably the best car I’ve ever had – I only got rid of it because it wasn’t suitable for the type of mileage I was then doing.”
Despite test driving an electric vehicle, Salmon has no plans to switch his allegiance from LPG.
He said: “The alternatives to petrol and diesel are LPG or electric, and electric cars aren’t quite there yet for drivers outside cities. With LPG here, widely available and cleaner to use we should be making use of it. I like anything that cuts what I pay for energy – the back of my house is covered in solar panels – and LPG is also good for the environment.”
MAKE THE SWITCH
Salmon would like to see others joining him at the LPG pump – and automaker offering UK buyers cars that can be filled there, as they do in Europe.
He said: “People are quick to complain about the price of petrol or diesel, and when I tell them about LPG they think it’s like witchcraft. So I think there must be a market for small city cars running on LPG, with a decent sized fuel tank.”
Anyone thinking of converting to LPG would have Owen’s encouragement, although he advises people to do their homework first.
He said: "Speak to a few installers and don’t forget that the best ones often don’t have the flashiest workshops – it’s all about what they know!"
Drivers who decide to make the switch to cheaper LPG autogas can look forward to miles of leisurely, feel good motoring, suggests Owen: “I like to travel around when I’m not at work and visit new places, and the low cost of LPG allows me to do that.