LPG taxi conversions could contribute to cleaner air in Birmingham
Taxi drivers in Birmingham could benefit from a grant of up to £5,000 towards converting their diesel vehicles to cleaner liquified petroleum gas (LPG)
Taxi drivers in Birmingham could benefit from a grant of up to £5,000 towards converting their diesel vehicles to cleaner liquified petroleum gas (LPG) as the city prepares to introduce the Clean Air Zone (CAZ).
Birmingham City Council has ring-fenced £14.75 million of Government funding to help the taxi and private hire trade as they prepare for the CAZ, which is due to be introduced in 2020.
Of this funding, £5 million is to be used to provide grants of up to £5,000 that taxi drivers can use to help pay for converting to Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)-approved options, which include LPG.
If they opt for the LPG route, drivers would have to find an additional sum of between £6,760 and £7480 (incl. VAT), depending on their vehicle, to cover the full cost of conversion, which is being undertaken by Vehicle Repowering Solutions.
In 2017, Birmingham City Council financed the conversion of 65 diesel Hackney Cabs to run on LPG in what was the first project of its kind in the country, supported by £500,000 funding from the Department of Transport.
Testing at specialist facilities demonstrated that NOx emissions, which are a key contributor to air pollution and the associated health problems, reduced by 80% after the taxis were converted. The success of the project saw it winning the Local Authority and Public Sector Air Quality Initiative of the Year Award at the 2017 National Air Quality Awards.
LPG is a cleaner fuel to burn than diesel and offers significant air quality benefits. Switching taxis to LPG is one of the ways hackney carriage drivers can upgrade their vehicles to the Euro VI emissions standard and ensure compliance with Birmingham’s upcoming Clean Air Zone (CAZ).
LPG vehicles work in the same way as a petrol vehicle. The method of refuelling is identical as for a conventional car, and the driving characteristics, such as performance and range, are very similar to that of equivalent petrol vehicles. LPG also provides cost savings compared to running taxis on diesel or petrol.
Of the taxi drivers who took part in the 2017 project in Birmingham, 32 completed a survey, which revealed: 97% would recommend the technology to other drivers, while 85% were “very satisfied” with the LPG taxi and overall conversion process.
All taxi drivers who participated said their fuel bill was significantly reduced, with an average monthly saving of £130, which corresponds to more than £1,500 each year.
Read the final LPG conversion programme report here.