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Green LPG means growth for Dorset cab firm

It would be an unusual transport business owner who didn’t leap at the chance to slash more than a third off their fuel costs, but those who make such substantial savings as a happy by-product of following green principles may be even rarer – yet that’s exactly the position in which the owners of Castle Cabs in Christchurch, Dorset, Danny and Stacy Cogan, find themselves, thanks to their LPG autogas-powered fleet.

In the spring of 2014 Danny was working for another local cab firm and studying towards an Open University degree in environmental sciences when he set up his business – and the choice of a low-polluting car was critical.

Danny explains: “A big part of my open university course was about fossil fuels and the importance of alternative sources, so I was aware of the clean properties of LPG and knew I wanted my car to run on gas because it’s cleaner than petrol or diesel.”

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The first member of the Castle Cabs fleet was a 2004 Vauxhall Vectra, equipped with a factory-fitted LPG autogas system. Once business got going, Danny and Stacy discovered the significant financial gains of running on gas. “The number one benefit for the business is definitely the cost side,” he confirms. “I’m saving at least a third on fuel compared to other local firms. For example, a typical airport run from Bournemouth to Gatwick costs £37 on diesel, but only costs me £24 on LPG.”

And with the Vectra covering 25,000 miles in its first three months, the savings soon mounted up, enabling the business to expand. “It was only six weeks until we were in a position to buy our second vehicle,” says Danny. “The savings we were making running the Vectra on LPG absolutely helped us pay for the second car.”

Of course the second car that joined the fleet ran on LPG autogas as well – this time a 2003 Vauxhall Astra, also fitted with LPG from new. With business continuing to be brisk, Danny is already on the lookout for an OEM LPG-equipped Vauxhall Zafira six-seater to add a third car to the Castle Cabs ranks.

The green fleet of cabs has enabled Danny to give his business a genuine USP and a local edge, by positioning it as an environmentally-friendly, low-emission firm. It’s an approach that has proved a hit with customers. Danny explains: “At least a third of our new bookings come from people who have found us online and go with us because they like the fact we’re eco-friendly. It’s amazing how many passengers comment on how quiet and smooth our cars are compared to other cabs, as well.”

Customers don’t expect a cab running on cheaper LPG autogas to mean cheaper fares, either. “We don’t offer lower prices because our fuel costs are lower, so we’re ploughing savings back into the business,” says Danny. “What it does mean is that, if our competitors go to undercut us, we can afford to cut our prices as well without really worrying about it.”

Needless to say, Danny would strongly recommend LPG autogas to fellow taxi and private hire firms. “I’ve already convinced two of my independent colleagues in Christchurch to get an LPG car next time,” he smiles. “And I’d say anyone buying a taxi should look at it very seriously. I never have problems finding gas to fill up.”

For Castle Cabs, it seems like the future is bright, and the future is green. “I certainly plan to develop the business with LPG,” concludes Danny. “And I sing its praises to everyone who travels in the cars!”

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