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

Cape Town-based fiber optic network operator Octotel is piloting liquid petroleum gas (LPG) hybrid vehicles to assess the benefits of LPG as an alternative fuel for its large fleet of vehicles.

GreenCape, backed by the Western Cape government, has now released a case study of the pilot, showing how switching to LPG can reduce transportation costs and environmental damage.

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

“The reduced carbon build-up in LPG vehicles also results in reduced vehicle maintenance costs due to longer periods between services and increased spark plug life. “

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


The pilot

Octotel supplied two of its vehicles to KepuGas as part of the pilot project. KepuGas is building a network of LPG refueling stations in the Western Cape as demand increases, including in the Atlantis Special Economic Zone for Green Technologies (ASEZ).

The pilot’s LPG supply was provided by the group’s LPG refueling station in Salt River, Cape Town, which sources LPG from Sunrise Energy’s LPG import and storage facility in the Saldanha bay.

For the test, the following vehicles were used:

  • Nissan NP200 1.6 8V
  • Fiat Fiorino 1.4

Both vehicles were equipped with internal proprietary telematics devices with the following features:

  • These telemetry devices connect directly to the STAG ECU and read and report various data in real time.
  • Accurate and real-time measurement of LPG consumption thanks to Intelligent Gas Level (IGL) technology.
  • Real-time distance measurement was used for LPG vs gasoline.
  • A real-time savings calculator was used based on current LPG / gasoline prices.

For the purpose of the test, a benchmark price of R16.60 per liter was used for gasoline (May 2021), while an LPG price of R8.69 (excluding VAT) was used. As vehicles converted to automatic gas require gasoline starting ignition, the LPG figure is estimated at 99%.

Greencape then calculated the annualized savings based on a 262-day work year.


How much money was saved

The report shows that the installation of the automatic gas system on the vehicle went smoothly and the downtime was approximately one day per vehicle.

The Nissan NP200 1.6 8V traveled 5,141 km during the pilot period, of which approximately 4,703.93 km were on LPG. The vehicle was refueled a total of eight times, equivalent to 520.08 liters of LPG.

Greencape estimated that this distance with 100% gasoline would have cost around 6,958 Rand, compared to 3,825 Rand if 99% LPG had been used. This resulted in an estimated saving of R3,075 and the total annual savings were estimated at 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 automatic fuel system to the vehicle went smoothly and the downtime was around a day per vehicle.

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

The vehicle traveled a total of 4,924 km during the test period and refueled a total of 13 times, equivalent to 447.37 liters of LPG. In total, 3,711 km were driven on LPG.

Greencape estimated that this distance with 100% gasoline would have cost around 5,962 rand, while the same trip cost 3,590 rand using 99% LPG. This resulted in an estimated saving of R 2373 and total annualized savings of 17,416 R.

Octotel told BusinessTech that it is now actively taking the necessary steps to go green.

“We have a fairly large fleet of 75 vehicles and this new project we are working on involves installing fuel tanks in the vehicle. This diverts the original fuel source from gasoline or diesel to LPG gas. From what we have seen, there is a massive 22% CO2 savings.

“This is something that is close to our hearts, because not only do we give back to our customers and suppliers on a daily basis, but in this way we can also give back to the environment,” he said.


Read: R10.50 per liter alternative to record gasoline prices in South Africa

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