Does running a cheap vehicle on cheaper LPG really add up?
This isn’t a standard option in the UK, but could our European neighbours be getting a deal we ought to be offered? Six months of running an LPG version of Dacia’s cheap Sandero Stepway gave us some answers.
We went to Holland to buy a dual-fuel Dacia, since there you can buy the LPG version with the tank offered as a factory fitment. LPG, just to remind you, is liquefied petroleum gas, and goes by the proprietary name of Autogas. The fuel is the result of a joint venture between Shell and Calor.
The benefit of it is that it’s fairly prevalent, with about 1250 fuel stations offering it, and it’s certainly cheap. At about 60p per litre it means you can fill up this chunky SUV completely and still pay with a contactless bank card as it comes in below £30.
As well as cheap fuel, LPG is also good for low emissions, and it’s also benefited by the government taking away the automatic fuel duty escalator on LPG. That means it’ll gradually get relatively even cheaper compared to petrol or diesel.
However, it must be pointed out that actually fuel consumption isn’t as good due to the lack of efficiency of the fuel compared to the mainstream duo. We got about 34.5mpg compared to about 43mpg for the same vehicle run on petrol. That’s with the same engine, the 900cc three-cylinder model.
However, even with that worse consumption you’d still end up saving money. Over about 2000 miles you’d save about £90 – roughly £160 against £250.
However there’s another small negative, that means you’re having to fill up with fuel more frequently, and filling up is a bit more of a fiddle than with conventional fuel stops. As the gas seal is released it can certainly make you jump! However, it’s hardly onerous, and we’d do well to remember that LPG-powered vehicles are totally mainstream in Europe, with major manufacturers offering them alongside petrol and diesel alternatives.
So running this vehicle didn’t have any notable downsides and it didn’t affect performance or the practicality of this cheap and functional SUV, yet it did offer notable fuel savings. The tank itself sits where the spare wheel would be, so you lose that, but you don’t lose any boot space.
Perhaps we should be asking for these to become more mainstream in this country. They’re there on the Continent, and perhaps they should be here, allowing us to instantly improve our running costs as well as our emissions.