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Benefits of LPG a lesson in ‘testing’ times

If there’s one profession that can really benefit from driving on LPG then surely it must be that of driving instructors.

All motorists can enjoy paying less at the pump by switching to LPG, but when your livelihood depends on getting the most out of the car, whether it’s the performance, how it handles or its everyday running costs, then that takes on an entirely new dimension.

Cue Stephen Bell, chief driving instructor at AutoScholar in south-west Manchester, who is in a better position than most to extol the virtues of driving with the cheaper fuel.

Due to his job, Stephen can spend up to 40 hours a week on the road, travelling to students and teaching them how to drive, which ranges from total novices through to drivers aiming for their IAM advanced driving test.

And in a strange twist of fate, Stephen’s experience driving with LPG has come full circle because it was in an LPG powered Toyota Starlet that he learnt to drive in 1980.

Fast forward some 20 years or so and Stephen returned to LPG when he needed a larger vehicle, especially for European holidays tackling long distances when fuel costs were a major consideration. The vehicle, an already converted Honda Shuttle, ‘drove like a dream’.

However, it’s in his latest model, a Skoda Fabia that was converted to run on LPG by Panache Motor Company in Ardwick, an approved UKLPG installer, which is primarily used in his role as a driving instructor that the advantages of LPG are driven home.

Indeed, to fill up his tank from empty with LPG costs just £25, which equates to just over 10p per mile even in teaching conditions.

Stephen, who holds the Driving Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor (car) qualification, as well as being a qualified fleet driver trainer and an Institute of Advanced Motorists Registered Instructor, explains: “It was quite simple really. I did the sums and it worked out much cheaper to buy a petrol car and convert it to LPG than to drive a diesel model. So that’s exactly what I did and the car runs beautifully.”

However, it’s not just Stephen who is enjoying the advantages of LPG as his students are also helping the environment as independent research has shown that it is environmentally better than either diesel or petrol.

“I have a duty to my students that the car I teach them in is fit for purpose. Not only that, the performance of the vehicle is crucial, especially in a stop-start driving situation. My converted Skoda has more than lived up to my expectations and I plan to keep it for another five years before I look for another LPG powered car. By then, the money I will have saved in fuel costs will be considerable,” added Stephen.

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