LPG: Industry Calls For Importers To Bring LPG Models To Australia Photo:
2012 Holden LPG Commodore Range Photo:
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2012_holden_lpg_commodore_01 Photo: tmr

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Tim O'Brien | Apr, 21 2013 | 5 Comments
  • Gas Energy Australia CEO Michael Carmody responds to TMR article: "LPG Still Cheaper and Cleaner, But What's Happening Here?"
  • Industry calls for removal of excise, Government purchase of Australian-manufactured LPG vehicles, and for importers to include LPG vehicles in their Australian ranges

In a response to TMR's recent article on the state of health of the LPG autogas industry in Australia, Gas Energy Australia CEO Michael Carmody calls for radical changes to the way the fuel is supported in Australia.

He calls for a change to import rules (under Australian design rules) to require vehicle importers, such as Fiat, Hyundai and Kia, to include their international gas compatible models in their Australian vehicle ranges.

He also calls for changes to Government vehicle purchasing policy, to require Government vehicle purchases to be predominantly Australian-made LPG vehicles.

The following is the text of Mr Carmody's response.

"Gas Energy Australia agrees with the thrust of Trevor Collett’s recent article, LPG Still Cheaper and Cleaner, But What's Happening Here?

"It’s time the government and industry took a closer look at LPG Autogas. For too long, Autogas has been the third choice for Australian motorists when it comes to running their cars.

"Just over three percent of cars run on Autogas, even though it is consistently the cheapest fuel at the pump, is less polluting then petrol or diesel and is widely available at Australia’s service stations. And it is our own Australian product.

"Gas Energy Australia is committed to promoting LPG Autogas as a safe, clean and affordable choice for motorists.

"The long-term future of Autogas lies in the availability of modern fully-warranted new LPG-fuelled vehicles utilising the latest technology. The vehicles need to be competitive in price, fuel consumption and emissions.

"There is, however, hundreds of thousands of large family cars that can be converted to run on autogas, resulting in lower fuel bills while motorists can enjoy the benefits of a larger car."

"Last month senior representatives of Gas Energy Australia met with key federal politicians to discuss ways of realising the community benefits from increased availability and greater use of gas powered vehicles - given the current trend to import petrol and diesel.

"Gas Energy Australia proposed that there should be greater support for our locally produced LPG vehicles and that the government should encourage adapting Australian Design rules requiring overseas manufacturers, such as Fiat, Hyundai and Kia, to supply their international gas compatible models to the Australian market.

"In addition, placing excise on LPG autogas sends the wrong message to motorists. The government should be encouraging a greater take up of this abundant fuel.

"All government-purchased vehicles should be Australian made and predominantly designed or converted to run on autogas, especially for vehicles doing high kilometres.

"It’s time decision makers hit the reset button on increasing the benefits to Australia’s motorists from greater use of gas powered vehicles."

Mr Carmody's call for a removal of excise on LPG will certainly find favour with motorists; its introduction has narrowed the financial advantage of LPG over petrol and diesel.

Given that Australia has ample future stocks of LPG to remain self-sufficient for at least the next 40 to 50 years, and most of our petrol and diesel is imported, it would seem short-sighted of Government to put any barriers - such as a 12.5 percent excise inflating pump prices - to its wider use by motorists.

It is also illogical given that Government supports conversion to LPG with a $1000 rebate, and provides - until 2016 - a $2000 rebate on new vehicles with LPG fitted at manufacture.

Excise on LPG is being phased in. It's now at 7.5 percent, but is to rise to 12.5 percent by 2015.

Certainly, with two exceptional local cars running on dedicated gas systems, the LPi Falcon and LPG Commodore, it would make sense if Government vehicle purchasing policy was skewed to locally manufactured vehicles, running on an abundant, clean and inexpensive Australian-sourced fuel.

On whether importers might be encouraged to include LPG vehicles in their import plans, that may be a bigger hurdle.

TMR spoke with Kia's Kevin Hepworth as to any intentions it may have on the matter. Mr Hepworth said that for the forseeable future there was "little to no likelihood" of an LPG Kia in its Australian range.

Many motorists of course will be closely watching the performance of the growing numbers of LPG Hybrids at work in the taxi industry. For inexpensive green motoring, there can hardly be a better prospect.

Tim O'Brien
TMR Managing Editor

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