Speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Browning, chairman of Vauxhall Motors and vice-president of sales, marketing and aftersales at General Motors Europe, said fleets, manufacturers and fuel companies needed to band together to create consistency that would enable easier take-up of alternative fuel technologies.
Browning criticised what he called the ‘stop-go’ approach to funding that has blighted the development of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and added that he believed the short-term solution was now bioethanol.
He said: ‘It’s very frustrating in the UK where there has been a stop-go approach to LPG and other alternative fuels and there is a viable short-term alternative if we could get our collective act together.
‘I think in the medium and long-term, hybrid and fuel cells will be an important part of our mix but in the short term bio-fuels and especially ethanol are feasible, immediate alternatives.’
Browning cited the example of Saab in Sweden, where nearly half of all 9-5s sold are bioethanol-powered, and said the UK could learn from the Scandinavian example.
He said: ‘The Government in Sweden has done a really good job of getting all the stakeholders together and saying ‘this is a feasible current alternative that is a win-win from a customer’s point of view’.
‘Performance is improved, environmental friendliness is improved and it is a renewable fuel source. It’s a known technology which does not require extensive research and development. There’s no real competitive advantage for any one manufacturer over another as most are running bioethanol vehicles somewhere in the world already.
Browning said he thought there was good work being done through the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership but was frustrated that with oil prices, global warming and other environmental pressures, bioethanol was not getting ‘the traction it should’.
In Sweden, local authorities offer free parking for bioethanol cars and the government has issued edict guaranteeing high levels of availability.