A VERY INTERESTING CONVERSATION ON THE E-MOBILITY

A few days ago I was involved in a very interesting conversation with a group of friends from different nationalities, who started to talk about the electric and hybrid vehicles. It was a pleasure to see how people are more and more aware of the current trend in support of the e-vehicle. I was actually surprised about how wisely all the advantages were listed with accurate technical details – low consumption, performance, driving smoothness benefits, low maintenance cost assumptions and of course the green environmental footprint of these new technologies – with respect to traditional diesel and petrol cars. Likewise, main disadvantages did also come up like the price of new electric vehicles, their ridiculous autonomy, the low number of electric charging points and length of time to be charged, as well as the reduced Government support to buy them.

Even if different nationalities and backgrounds, they seemed to reach out a common conclusion: the electrical vehicle has now come to stay, due to the depletion of natural resources and Governments´ expectations to ban new sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2030 to meet emissions targets. (i.e. Europe).

It actually does not seem an achievable target since Governments in Europe have fixed 2030 as the deadline for car-makers to stop diesel/petrol engines production without providing a strong commitment– enough charging points and Governments´aids – to make it happen, besides a stronger awareness among people. On the private side, car-makers are continuously keeping strong investments to find out new technologies, consolidating valuable alliances in an attempt to increase batteries volume and reduce the cost per unit (As of now, it seems like electric vehicles are not a big business).

A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES: THE LGP AND LNG

For the time being, it still seems difficult to completely shift into the fully electric vehicle with current infrastructures, an expensive initial outlay, and reduced batteries autonomy. As a countermeasure to the Governments´measures of increasing continuously the price per liter of diesel and petrol, we discussed some other alternatives which have been becoming popular over the last years: the LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) and the LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) before getting a complete e-mindset perspective.

Compared to traditional petrol and diesel fuels, LPG and LNG are much more environmentally-conscious and economical friendly with our pockets. Truth be said, you will need to install in your car an LPG/LNG kit – around 1,300€ before taxes for a Toyota Prius (depending on the number of cylinders, the price will be different). For more information about conversion, consumption details, savings per kilometer and pay-back, I would recommend you to have a look into my following post Toyota Prius 3G 1.8HSD, the definitive fuel consumption test with Autogas.

Among these two alternative ways to power the vehicles and take a nice breath of the continuous Government´s pressure, it would turn out more reasonable to focus on the LPG in view of its social and economic relevance. Before running and making an appointment to convert our vehicle into the magnificent LPG system, we should analyze two key points that could make our investment profitable or not. Coming back to the initial conversation that inspired this article, the discussion then flowed through the following two questions in an attempt to understand the current situation of LPG supply and prices in Europe. Then, turning out to be a really interesting topic, I decided to further investigate:

How many LPG stations are in Europe?

How do LPG prices look like in the old continent?

CURRENT SITUATION OF LPG STATIONS IN EUROPE AND PRICES COMPARISON

According to the latest report provided by Autotraveler (Mar 2019), there are over 46,500 petrol stations ready to fuel your tank with LPG. These are actually good news considering that there are over 133,200 petrol stations in Europe (National Oil Industry Associations, FPS Economy, DG Energy, 2017), being Italy, Germany, Spain, and France the countries with the largest number (approx. 43% of the total).

The average price per liter of LPG in the last years has been 0,60€/L, without big fluctuations, but keeping a slightly increasing trend.

Having said that, it is worth saying that 46,500 petrol stations would be enough to supply LPG in Europe (35% out of total petrol stations), nonetheless the unequal distribution along the European countries and significant differences in prices makes the conversion into LPG more advisable in certain countries and could be more challenging in some others.

The best way to understand the current situation in Europe is to show the relationship between the number of LPG stations and the price per liter of LPG. In the above chart, 18 countries in Europe are displayed (including Russia and Turkey), which hit up to 86% of the total number of LPG stations in Europe.

Some important conclusions could be extracted from this chart:

  • Just 4 countries – Germany, Turkey, Poland, and Russia – accumulate 54% of the total LPG stations in Europe, consolidating Germany as the number one, keeping a price matching the average price in Europe.
  • Russia can boast about being the cheapest country to fill your LPG tank.
  • If you decided to convert your vehicle into LPG in Sweeden, you will not be that lucky since the number of LPG stations is rather small, as well as the price per liter is the highest in Europe (0.86€/L, a +44% more expensive).
  • Curiously, the situation of countries like the United Kingdom, France or Italy, which have a reasonable number of LPG stations with prices between 0.65€ in UK and 0.85€ in France. Nonetheless, countries like Belarus and Ukraine with significantly less number of stations are able to keep the price per liter under 0.35€/L.

QUESTIONS FOR THE READER

And finally, I would like to raise some questions regarding these high mismatching between the number of LPG stations and the price per liter among the different countries:

  • Why isn´t there a proper correlation between the number of stations with LPG supply and the price per liter?
  • Do you think that prices depend on the different systems – Capitalism or Communism – regarding taxes, financial support, etc?
  • Due to the unstoppable advance of the electrical price, do you think that the price per liter will increase over the next years significantly?

I hope you have enjoyed this article, at least as much as I did writing it for you! From my side, it is always a pleasure to share with you all my knowledge, ideas and investigations about important topics related to the wonderful automotive world. I would love to read your comments on this article, some answers on the questions raised or any other topic or suggestion you would like to make 😊

Juan Carlos Hoyos Saez Administrator
Passionate about Cars, Driving and Business. My objective is to inspire more and more car lovers. Racing, Kickboxing, traveling, and healthy life. Sub-project leader as a Material Cost/Project Controller, Daimler Trucks Asia (Tokyo, Japan).
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