Many drivers swear by LPG as a cheap fuel alternative. But which disadvantages one buys with? Is it worth converting? Or which drive is an even better choice? Choice, cost, range: a check of the pros and cons of eight concepts.
PART 2: NATURAL GAS AND AUTOGAS
97.6 percent: That’s the percentage of gasoline and diesel cars on our roads. So the alternatives with gas or e-drive are hard to find. And there are plenty of them. And still, their share is gradually increasing. There are many reasons for this: Some drive systems are cheaper to run, the range is increased, and emissions are reduced.
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But each engine has its typical strengths and weaknesses. Here’s an overview of which solution is right for you.
Your entry to the right car
The natural gas engine
Saving with natural gas: Compared to gasoline engines, fuel costs can be cut by about half with CNG cars. (Source: Erdgas Mobil)
Engines powered by methane (i.e. natural gas and other fuels) are a fairly clean solution, as they emit few pollutants:
- 18 percent less CO2 than gasoline engines
- 90 percent less nitrogen oxide than diesel
In addition, refueling is very cheap, as natural gas (also called CNG) is taxed less than other types of fuel. This is valid at least until 2026. In addition to CNG, natural gas cars can also be fueled with gasoline or biogas. They have a second tank on board for this purpose. As a result, they have a long range. Converted cars keep their large gasoline tank. If a car is already equipped for CNG operation ex works, it has a smaller gasoline tank. It holds about 15 liters and can cover the distance to the next natural gas filling station if necessary.
Supply is difficult with currently only 900 natural gas filling stations in Germany. But: The refueling network is to be expanded – also along the autobahns. Then you should also be able to refuel with CNG at every tenth conventional filling station.
A minor disadvantage is that natural gas cars offer somewhat less storage space because of the two tanks installed.
You can have your gasoline car converted to a natural gas drive, with a diesel car the expense is usually too high. There are also more than 20 models from major manufacturers (including the VW Group, Mercedes, Opel, Fiat) up to the Transporter.
Buyers should expect to pay a premium for a standard natural gas car compared with a conventional engine. This surcharge starts at about 1.000 euros, is therefore very low. Occasionally, manufacturers also offer their CNG cars at no extra charge during a promotional period. A conversion can cost between 3.500 and 4.000 euros.
Conversion often does not make sense. Older cars in particular won’t get the miles they need to make the expense worthwhile. In any case, such a conversion is a job for a specialist. If you want to drive a car with a natural gas engine, it’s best to buy it with the powertrain already converted.
The autogas drive
LPG refueling: Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) accounts for 0.8 percent of all vehicles in Germany (around 400 percent).000 cars). (Source: Eibner/imago images)
Autogas (LPG) is also tax-privileged and therefore significantly cheaper than gasoline and diesel. The filling station network is denser than for natural gas (CNG): more than 7.000 gas stations – about every second one – in Germany offer autogas. The emission of pollutants is low. However, the overall balance looks less good when production conditions are taken into account, say critics.
LPG cars can also be refueled with gasoline and have a correspondingly long range.
LPG also requires a second tank, which is usually installed in the spare wheel well. This storage space is lost accordingly. In gas mode, there is sometimes slightly less power available, but this is hardly noticeable.
Many cars with gasoline engines can be converted, the effort is relatively low. In addition, Opel, Kia and Dacia, among others, offer some models with autogas as standard. This range includes mainly small and compact cars.
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Converting costs between 1.700 and 2.400 euros. The surcharge for a standard LPG car is often a little bit higher. Nevertheless, this surcharge can be worthwhile, especially if you pay 15.000 kilometers or more. Even very thirsty old-timers like to be converted. LPG is only about half as expensive as gasoline.
Drive rather rarely or frequently? Short or long distances? Mostly stop-and-go or on the highway? It all depends on which powertrain is best for you. Despite the scandal, gasoline and diesel are still not a bad choice. However, the alternatives such as electric or gas drive may be a better. Take the time to compare and test drive the car before you buy it. And read the other parts of our series. You will find the links above.