Volvo Car UK has recently received a marked increase in calls from drivers enquiring about its Bi-Fuel range and whether they could qualify for a discount from the impending congestion charging scheme for central London.
Not surprisingly, a particularly high number of these have been from drivers living in the South East of England. As the 17 February commencement date looms inevitably closer, drivers are finally realising that they will soon have to pay £5 a day to drive in the capital’s centre between 7am and 6:30pm, Monday to Friday.
The good news for Volvo Bi-Fuel drivers of models S80, V70 and S60, is that they will qualify for 100% discount from the congestion charges. If they are regular visitors* to the UK’s capital this could mean annual savings for them personally, or their company of up to £1,200.
The fuel is cheaper too. A V70 LPG Bi-Fuel manual driver could save approximately £1,919 over three years in fuel costs alone, or around £2,976 in the same period if bunkered LPG fuel is used2. Bi-Fuels also offer company car drivers tax savings as liability is reduced due to low CO2 emissions.
Combine all these savings (fuel, congestion charging) and a business with a fleet of 25 cars that switched to Volvo Bi-Fuels would achieve an annual saving of nearly £78,000 (or £104,000 if bunkered).
Volvo was the first manufacturer to design and build its own range of European whole vehicle type-approved, gas-fuelled models with discreet underfloor tanks, addressing the space and safety issues associated with aftermarket car conversions.
John Pitts, Environmental Manager for Volvo Car UK, says: "As well as the environmental and financial benefits, there is another key advantage to driving a Volvo Bi-Fuel – comfort. We are the only motor manufacturer in the UK to provide Bi-Fuel cars with automatic transmission which qualify for the London congestion charging 100% discount. Both of these factors will feature high on corporate drivers’ wish lists if they are regular London drivers."Bi-Fuel Sales – Results And Forecast
The congestion charging scheme in London could have a positive effect on sales of Bi-Fuels for Volvo in the UK. The company has already seen a rise in sales from 2001 to 2002, with units sold increasing from 160 to 881 last year, the majority of which went to corporate drivers.
The current forecast from Volvo is that sales of its Bi-Fuel will increase by a further 45% on 2002’s figures, to around 1300 units in 2003. However, as more drivers realise the potential benefits to their pockets and the environment of driving one of Volvo’s alternative fuel cars, this number could climb even higher by the end of the year.
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