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Pollution’s set to stick around but are plug-in cars the answer?

News hit the headlines recently that a number of areas in the UK, including major cities like Leeds, Birmingham and London, are on course to exceed air pollution limits until at least 2030.

This is a fairly damning indictment, not only of the failure over the last decade or so to curb rises in pollution, but also of measures being put in place to bring current levels down to below legal limits.

Road traffic is often put in the spotlight as a significant contributor to increased emissions, and many observers cite the boom in the popularity of diesel vehicles in the last 10 years or so as a major factor in high levels of harmful particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in our environment.

However, manufacturers have been investing huge amounts in the research and development of ‘plug-in’ electric or hybrid vehicles, which are hailed as the answer to our pollution problems and have the staunch backing of government.

The only problem is that not enough people are buying them. Rumours are circulating that Vauxhall – or Opel in Europe – is preparing to withdraw its range extended electric Ampera, which was launched amid much fanfare, because of dismal sales that have barely crept above 300 in the first half of 2014. And if enough people did start buying them, there are serious question marks over whether the charging infrastructure is sufficiently extensive and robust enough to manage the demand.

We continue to believe strongly that LPG autogas has a crucial role to play in improving air quality as an established, readily available alternative fuel with proven environmental credentials. Major manufacturers sell models powered by LPG autogas in their continental showrooms so there should be no reason for denying UK buyers the same choice. Our recent survey indicated that up to 43 per cent of drivers would choose a new LPG car if they could.

So it’s over to the manufacturers to decide – focus exclusively on slow-selling electric cars or embrace clean-burning LPG autogas and redouble their efforts to drive down pollution.

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