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Small cars produce big cost savings for Owen

Think of a car that would typically be converted to run on cheaper LPG autogas and what springs to mind is probably a thirsty 4×4 or a large luxury saloon with a powerful petrol engine, but Owen Salmon’s LPG car history proves that needn’t be the case, including as it does a pocket rocket Rover Metro and a diminutive Chevrolet Matiz.

he financial saving potential of LPG autogas first attracted Owen when he converted his sporty Rover Metro GTA in the early 2000s. Since then he has covered more than 100,000 miles on LPG and has saved almost £6,000, nearly halving the fuel costs for his already frugal cars.

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Indeed, Owen’s current Mitsubishi Colt CZC is his fourth LPG autogas-powered compact car. “People have always asked me why I run small cars on LPG,” remarks Owen. “They say ‘you must be getting 50 miles to the gallon already’ but because I run LPG I get the equivalent of 80 or 90 miles to the gallon. My view is why pay for something you don’t have to, and my cost savings from using LPG are absolutely amazing.”

Of his four LPG autogas cars, Owen has had three converted to run on the cheaper fuel himself and bought the other one with a kit already installed. Even taking into account the cost of an LPG conversion – typically around £1,000 – Owen has still soon managed to start counting the savings.

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“When I converted my Suzuki Jimny, I kept a detailed spreadsheet of what it cost every time I filled up, and what it lpg_suzuki_jimnywould have cost on petrol, to see how quickly the difference broke even with what I’d paid for the conversion,” explains Owen. “After four months I’d broken even!”

Owen’s Chevrolet Matiz, which he purchased pre-converted, saved him money from the outset. “I bought it with 55,000 miles on the clock and took it up to about 90,000,” he recalls. “Returning 65mpg at LPG prices meant the running costs really were negligible and I didn’t have a single problem running on gas. It’s probably the best car I’ve ever had – I only got rid of it because it wasn’t suitable for the type of mileage I was then doing.”

Despite test driving an electric vehicle, Owen has no immediate plans to switch his allegiance from LPG autogas. “The alternatives to petrol and diesel are LPG or electric, and electric cars aren’t quite there yet for drivers outside cities. With LPG here, widely available and cleaner to use we should be making use of it. I like anything that cuts what I pay for energy – the back of my house is covered in solar panels – and LPG is also good for the environment.”

Owen would like to see others joining him at the LPG autogas pump – and manufacturers offering UK buyers cars that can be filled there, as they do in Europe. “People are quick to complain about the price of petrol or diesel, and when I tell them about LPG they think it’s like witchcraft,” he laughs. “So I think there must be a market for small city cars running on LPG, with a decent sized gas tank.”

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Anyone thinking of converting to LPG autogas would have Owen’s encouragement, although he advises people to do their homework first. “Speak to a few installers and don’t forget that the best ones often don’t have the flashiest workshops – it’s all about what they know!”

Motorists who decide to make the switch to cheaper LPG autogas can look forward to miles of leisurely, feel good motoring, suggests Owen. “I like to travel around when I’m not at work and visit new places, and the low cost of LPG allows me to do that.

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