Fleet News

Crackdown on gas cowboy converters

THE Government will be discussing regulations to oversee conversions of vehicles to run on liquefied petroleum gas in fleets following recent 'conversion cowboy' scares, Melanie Johnson, parliamentary secretary for consumer affairs, has promised.

Speaking at the Trading Standards Institute Conference in Birmingham, Johnson said the Government was keen to see more take-up of LPG, but warned: 'Until regulations are in place, the key is for consumers to use an LPGA approved converter.'

Birmingham Trading Standards (BTS) recently discovered that 19 out of 20 LPG conversions by unapproved converters were unsafe. Johnson added that although she could not commit the Department of Transport, she would be speaking to colleagues soon to bring in laws that would stamp out such malpractice. She added: 'What this research shows is there are issues we will be looking at to see what can be done.'

Conservative transport spokesman Roger Evans was shocked at the BTS findings. He said: 'I am amazed that the Government is encouraging people to convert their cars to LPG without first of all putting regulations in place to ensure that these conversions are being carried out properly and safely.'

Insiders in the LPG industry believe it could take two years before any regulations come into force.

Vauxhall has reacted to fears by reinforcing its safety message on its Dualfuel range. A spokesman said: 'Thanks to a range of additional safety features, Vauxhall dualfuel vehicles are as safe as ordinary petrol or diesel models. All Vauxhall dualfuel gas tanks meet international safety standards and the integrity of the LPG system has been proved by extensive testing.'

Vauxhall has also added a more powerful engine to its Astra Dualfuel range. The 1.8 16v unit is available in Elegance and SXi trim and costs from £14,545. After the PowerShift funding, this represents a £995 premium over petrol and diesel models. The firm also claimed Dualfuel registrations had risen by 16% in the first half of the year against the same period last year. Registrations totalled 1,105 from January to June.

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