This South African company fitted its cars with a gas system – here’s how much they saved on petrol

 ·20 Nov 2021

Cape Town-based fibre network operator Octotel is piloting Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) hybrid vehicles to evaluate the benefits of LPG as an alternative fuel for their large vehicle fleet.

GreenCape, supported by the Western Cape Government, has now published a case study of the pilot, showing how the move to LPG can reduce transport costs and reduce environmental damage.

“Compared to ordinary internal combustion engine vehicles and battery-petrol hybrid electric vehicles, LPG hybrid vehicles significantly reduce vehicle emissions and provide significant cost savings,” GreenCape said.

“The reduced carbon build-up in LPG vehicles also leads to lower vehicle maintenance costs because of more extended periods between services and increased life for spark plugs.”

The group said that the transition could also lead to significant job creation and investment potential as there are six refineries in South Africa, of which five produce LPG.

The pilot 

Octotel provided two of their vehicles to KepuGas as part of the pilot. KepuGas is in the process of building a network of LPG refuelling stations in the Western Cape as demand grows, including at the Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies (ASEZ).

The LPG supply for the pilot was provided from the group’s LPG fuelling station in Salt River, Cape Town, which gets its LPG supply from the Sunrise Energy LPG import and storage facility in Saldanha Bay.

For the test, the following vehicles were used:

  • Nissan NP200 1.6 8V
  • Fiat Fiorino 1.4

Both vehicles were fitted with the in-house proprietary telematic devices with the following features:

  • These telemetry devices connect directly to the STAG ECU and read and report various data in real-time.
  • Precise and real-time measurement of LPG Consumption through Intelligent Gas Level technology (IGL).
  • A real-time measurement of distance was used for LPG vs Petrol.
  • A real-time savings calculator was used based on current LPG/petrol pricing.

For the purposes of the test, a reference price of R16.60 per litre was used for petrol (May 2021), while an LPG price of R8.69 (excluding VAT) was used. As autogas converted vehicles require a start-up ignition on petrol the LPG figure is quoted as 99%.

Greencape then calculated the annualised savings based on a work year of 262 days.

How much money was saved 

The report shows that the installation of the autogas system to the vehicle was seamless, and the downtime was approximately one day per vehicle.

The Nissan NP200 1.6 8V drove 5,141 km during the pilot period, with approximately 4,703.93km driven on LPG. The vehicle refuelled a total of eight times, equalling 520.08 litres of LPG.

Greencape estimated that this distance on 100% petrol would have cost around R6,958, compared to R3,825 if 99% LPG was used. This resulted in an estimated saving of R3,075 and total annualised savings were estimated to be R16,444.

Similar savings were seen with the second Fiat Fiorino test vehicle. As with the Nissan, the data shows that the installation of the autogas system to the vehicle was seamless, and the downtime was approximately one day per vehicle.

The vehicle, however, experienced some high initial consumption figures due to incorrect injector nozzle sizes deployed. This was due to a discrepancy between the EU and local specifications of the available data. This was corrected and resulted in a reduction in LPG consumption, Greencape said.

The vehicle drove a total of 4,924 km during the trial period and refuelled a total of 13 times, equalling 447.37 litres of LPG. A total of 3,711 km was driven on LPG.

Greencape estimated that this distance on 100% petrol would have cost around R5,962, while the same trip cost R3,590 using 99% LPG. This resulted in an estimated saving of R2,373 and total annualised savings of R17,416.

Octotel told BusinessTech that it is now actively taking the steps towards going green.

“We have quite a large fleet of 75 vehicles and this new project we have been working on involves installing gas tanks into the vehicle. This diverts the original fuel source from petrol or diesel into LPG gas. From what we have seen is that there is a massive CO2 emission saving of 22%.

“This is something that is very close to our hearts because not only do we give back to our clients and our vendors on a daily basis but this way we can give back to the environment as well,” it said.

Read: A R10.50 per litre alternative to South Africa’s record-high petrol price

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