LNG and LNG are the ideal ecocompatible fuels: cars fueled with gas are always allowed to circulate, even when traffic is limited because the admissible levels of pollution have been exceeded.
The gasses produced by the combustion of LPG and LNG have a very low content of polluting substances, some, but not all, of which are regulated, and greenhouse gasses.
According to the study Green Economy and Motor Vehicles: an Italian project carried out by the Foundation for Sustainable Development, “gas-fueled cars give better environmental performance that traditional cars with advanced standards: from 10 to 20% better in CO2 with respect to gasoline-fueled cars, and almost 80% less NOX and 40% less PM10 that a Euro 6 diesel-fueled vehicle.”
With gas drivers save about 55-60% on the cost of fuel compared with gasoline and diesel oil. In addition to this economic advantage they may also be state and local contribution.
Dual fuel with gasoline/gas (LPG or LNG)
Generally, gasoline-fueled vehicles are converted to run on LPG or LNG, obtaining a vehicle with dual fuel supply: gasoline/LPG or gasoline/LNG.
This is obtained by installing a special fuel conversion kit and a tank for the additional fuel.
Passage to gas fuel is automatic and undetectable, indicated only by the indicator on the dashboard. The driver does not notice any difference in the car’s performance. The pickup, total speed and power remain unchanged. New technologies, for which Italy is a world leader, guarantee reduced consumption and excellent autonomy.
Practically all gasoline-fueled cars, whether catalyzed or not, with carburetor or injection system, can be converted to gas. The conversion is made by a specialized workshop, the automaker directly or the concessionaire.
Distributed uniformly everywhere in the country, there are over 5,000 mechanical workshops in Italy that are qualified to install systems for conversion to LPG and LNG fuel. The installation requires about 2 days including testing, and the car may be unavailable for no more than one day.
The vehicle converted to LPG or LNG is subject to technical testing by the provincial offices of the Motor Vehicle Department in the provincial capital where the workshop is located. After passing the test, the car’s registration papers are updated to certify the installation of the gas system, also to enable the owner to apply for any public incentives and/or fiscal facilitations.
The cost of conversion varies depending on the technological level of the car and thus of the gas supply system it requires, and also on the basis of the local market conditions.
It is important to note that today even diesel and hybrid vehicles can be converted to gas successfully.
Maintenance and tanks
A gas-fueled car does not require any different care from one fueled with gasoline. We do recommend having the gas system checked every 25,000 km and following the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as those of the workshop installing it.
The tanks currently available on the market come in cylindrical or toroid shape. The former are installed in the luggage compartment, usually against the back of the back seat, while the later, currently available only for gasoline/LPG-fueled cars, with their particular shape, can be house in the spare tire compartment. In this latter case, there is no fixed structure occupying part of the luggage compartment, and the spare tire can be replaced with a spare wheel kit or managed like any other baggage.
LPG: the tank, with the valve unit, has to be replaced every 10 years. The replaces is reported on the registration papers after the car has been subjected to technical testing again by the Motor Vehicle Department.
LNG: the LNG tanks installed on vehicles (whether directly in the factory or after conversion) are subject to periodical inspection. Depending on the type of tanks installed, the inspections should be made every 4 or 5 years:
• Tanks with national approval (DGM) – have to be checked every 5 years referring to the date of construction or last inspection;
• Tanks with international approval (R110) – have to be checked every 4 years from the date of registration of the vehicle.
In both cases, the owner will contact the workshop of installation/assistance for gas systems and they will provide to carry out all the necessary actions, charging only for the labor, because in Italy, retesting tanks and their possible replacement if no longer valid, are free of charge.
Maintenance of the warranty
Transformation of the car to LPG or LNG will not interfere with the manufacturer’s warranty on the vehicle. The workshop or concessionaire that installed the gas conversion kit and the manufacturer of the kit are liable for damage or malfunctions caused to the engine by erroneous installation or defect of the parts of the gas system installed. The legal warranty of the automaker remains in any case and the burden of proof of the damage rests with the producer of the car and not with the buyer, who has the right to own a car with all its parts in good working order in the two years following purchase. Protection of this right is clearly expressed in articles 130 and 132 of the Consumer Code, which completes the Italian civil code on the subject: the right to the legal warranty never expires within the two years of purchase of the product. Although different parties may be liable, this is a matter of protection of consumers and is not to their detriment. However it is a fact that the modern industrial methods mean that it is very rarely necessary to resort to the warranty to resolve problems encountered during the first years of use of the vehicle, while there may be rare cases of problems connected with application of the warranty on cars converted to gas.
The LPG and LNG models produced directly by the automakers
In recent years the various automakers have begun to take an interest in gas fuel. Several models are offered to drivers already equipped with LPG or LNG system, which can be of two types:
- gasoline models on which the automakers installed a gas conversion kit to the new car or at the time of its registration. In this case the car is registered as converted, with testing by the Motor Vehicle Department;
- cars approved also for gas, for which the approval appears directly on the registration papers. There are currently more of these cars on the road than conversions.
Monofuel gas-fueled cars
There are several models on the market that are considered monofuel vehicles as they are equipped with a small gasoline take, called an emergency tank, which permits them to be classified as monofuel gas-fueled cars. This gives the owner the right to a reduction of the annual registration tax of 75%.
In the construction of gas conversion kits, account is always taken of the chemical and physical characteristics of LPG and LNG: inspections, tests and trials are very strict.
Conversion kits make use of active safety parts, whose action is seen only in case of need, in the same way as air bags and ABS.
Finally, thanks to the Ministry Decree that adopts the high safety standards for LPG-fueled vehicles, as of 4 December 2002 they are allowed to park in undergrounds garages – as far as the first floor underground – if their systems are equipped with safety devices in accordance with ECE UN regulation 67-01 (which made them mandatory as long ago as January 2001).
Ten questions about LPG and LNG
1) What is meant by cars fueled with LPG or LNG?
Gasoline-fueled vehicles can be converted to use gas, obtaining a dual-fuel vehicle that can run on gasoline and LPG or gasoline and LNG, using a special conversion kit and an extra fuel tank. The conversion is made by a specialized workshop, the automaker directly or the concessionaire. The dual fuel system is noted on the registration papers.
2) What is a car fueled with LNG or LPG more economical than a traditional car?
The economy is due to the lower cost of the fuel: A full tank can cost 50% less than gasoline and as prices now stand, even than diesel fuel. Moreover, a car converted to gas maintains its value on the used car market.
3) Is it true that gas-fueled cars can always circulate?
Yes, using LPG and LNG means being able to circulate at all times, even in case of limitations on traffic, as it is a low environmental impact fuel: The emissions produced by the combustion of LPG and LNG have a very low content of polluting substances, and a lower production of greenhouse gasses.
4) How much does it cost to install a gas conversion kit? Who does it?
5) Is it true that the annual registration tax is lower?
Yes, the annual tax for gas-fueled cars has not increase and the rates are practically frozen since 2006. Several Italian regions have enacted provisions of exemption for a certain number of years, as well. It is possible to calculate the amount of the tax due on the Internal Revenue Agency website: www.agenziaentrate.it, click on Services and select Annual registration tax).
6) Does the maintenance of the car change?
Not in any significant ways. We do recommend having the gas system checked every 25,000 km and following the manufacturer’s instructions, as well as those of the workshop installing it. There are also specific laws regarding gas tanks. Those for LNG have to be inspected every 4 years. Those for LPG have to be replaced and retested every 10 years.
7) Aren’t LNG or LPG dangerous in the car?
No more than any other fuel. Safety is guaranteed: In the construction of gas conversion kits, account is always taken of the chemical and physical characteristics of LPG and LNG, and the tests and trials are very strict. Conversion kits make use of active safety parts, whose action is seen only in case of need, in the same way as air bags and ABS.
8) It is true that they can’t park in underground garages?
Not any more. The Interior Ministry has decreed that on the basis of the high safety standard of gas-fueled vehicles, they can part in underground garages (as far as the first floor). They decree has been in force since 4 December 2002. dal 4 dicembre 2002.
9) Can diesel vehicles be converted to gas?
Certainly. Now it is possible, also with excellent results from the environmental standpoint. Even hybrids can be updated thanks to conversion to gas, making them ... trifuel vehicles!
10) How and where is it possible to refuel?
Refueling with LPG doesn’t take any longer than refueling with gasoline. With LNG the refueling time is about 3 minutes for a car, 5-10 minutes for a heavy vehicle like a bus. There are about 3,800 LPG distributors now in Italy, on the motorways and regular roads. The distribution network for LNG is expanding and there are now about 1100 stations.