Nationwide, there are more than 14,500 'traditional' filling stations. Specialist providers such as Calor Autogas and Flogas are, however, able to provide LPG through 110 outlets, although few of these are forecourt operations. Drivers of compressed natural gas vehicles are seemingly being ignored by forecourt operations because of the lengthy refuelling times compared to LPG.
Fuel companies estimate each forecourt LPG installation costs about £50,000, an investment not justified by current sales. One garage in Derbyshire, for example, dispenses up to 1,500 litres of LPG a week to 10 customers, but its share of income from the fuel is 4p per litre, equal to £60 a week. Only a massive increase in turnover would cover costs.
Jonathan Murray, manager of the Powershift programme, which provides grants to help cover the cost of buying or converting alternatively-fuelled vehicles, has called on fleets to speak up and demand access to fuel where they want it. He said: 'Fleet managers must demand access to refuelling points where they need them for alternative-fuelled vehicles, because oil companies will want to invest where they will have business.'