Mazda has seen an increase in Mazda6 sales to UK fleets who intend to convert the car to liquefied petroleum gas with the expectation of significantly more orders in the pipeline.
Mazda6 LPG conversions have already joined the fleet of the LPG Division of fuel giant BP. Additionally, Mazda3 and Mazda6 models have been ordered by Calor Gas for conversion and Gleaner Oils has three Mazda3 models on order. Mazda is also in talks with a number of other organisations about supplying cars for LPG conversion purposes.
The aftermarket conversions are all being carried out by Prins Autogas UK, which has two in-house conversion centres in the West Midlands and Southampton.
The company, which now also operates a Mazda6 LPG car, is the UK distributor of Prins Autogas Systems, which is owned by Dutch company SHV Gas, which also owns Calor Gas in the UK.
Now Prins Autogas UK is recommending Mazda cars and state: "Mazda's cars are very high quality and lend themselves for LPG conversion, particularly as having fitted the tank boot space remains significant."
In 2001, UK sales of LPG cars peaked at 26,000 vehicles, while demand subsequently shrunk after the Government withdrew grants, which helped offset the additional cost of the vehicles. In 2009, 12,500* LPG cars were sold in the UK of which 12,250 were the result of retro-fit conversions.
Nevertheless, Prins UK say: "There is demand for LPG vehicles, particularly in the fleet sector. Conversions cost £1,500 to £2,000 depending on model. LPG remains significantly cheaper than petrol and businesses will recoup the after-market conversion costs, in most cases, within 18 months."
Average UK fuel prices currently, according to website petrolprices.com are, 128.72p a litre for unleaded petrol, 133.64p a litre for diesel and 76.35p a litre for LPG.
Retro-fit conversions can be carried out on petrol-engined Mazda3 1.6 and 2.0-litre models and petrol-engined Mazda6 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5-litre models.
Environmental benefits include a 10 per cent well-to-wheel reduction in CO2 emissions versus both petrol and diesel-engined cars, a 99 per cent reduction in particulate matter when compared with diesel-engined cars and a 95 per cent saving in nitrogen oxide (NOx) in comparison with diesel-engined cars.
Allibon added: "LPG can provide clear financial fuel savings and environmental benefits, both of which are crucial to fleets with the business focus very much on cost management and carbon footprint reduction."
Calor Gas, which runs a 185-strong fleet and has now adopted an all-LPG company car requirement, recently added Mazda to its three-badge company car choice list.
Ian Davis, Group Purchasing Manager, said: "We broadened the choice of cars for our drivers with the addition of both the Mazda3 and Mazda6. We are delighted at Mazda's decision to move into LPG and the move is proving popular with staff. We already have four Mazda6 models and two Mazda3 models on order. I anticipate that more orders will follow this year."
The LPG division of BP has already taken delivery of four Mazda6 LPG cars and has a number of other cars on order.
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