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02 December 2021

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Do you have a classic car? Thought of “going electric”?
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Do you have a classic car? Thought of “going electric”?

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It is not too soon to start thinking about electric cars, even electric conversions

Time for a break from covid and rather conveniently the topic of electric cars has been highlighted recently.

There is a most interesting article in The Times, published in May and to save repeating it all, here is the link:

https://www.driving.co.uk/news/features/classic-car-electric-conversion-electrogenic/

As we know the whole question of climate change is proving fairly vexing at the moment and there is growing concern about how we reduce our carbon emissions. Whilst electricity is not always carbon free, a lot of it can be, e.g. hydro-electric plants, solar panels, wind turbines, hot springs etc. And your location in the world can make a big difference in that respect. Of course there is a capital cost which can be quite high but that is probably a bullet we must bite.

But the idea of electric cars is rather exciting and gradually manufacturers are producing them and slowly people are buying them. And moreover you are no longer restricted to a milk float! Unfortunately at the moment they are rather expensive and there are issues, like getting enough lithium, and the range of electric vehicles is still not very high but it is growing and car manufacturers are turning their eyes seriously to this line of product.

There will come a time when buying petrol or diesel is going to be very difficult indeed and it is easy to foresee that electric cars will become very popular once the power issue is resolved by the introduction of new technology.

But we have a problem like this already – and that is vehicles which run on LPG which is short for liquefied petroleum gas, also known as autogas. Autogas is an excellent fuel; it is much cleaner than petrol because its waste products after burning are water, carbon dioxide and small quantities of carbon monoxide. The British government, alongside many other governments, decided to encourage the use of LPG in vehicles by introducing a much lower rate of duty. Whereas the current duty on petrol is 57.95p per litre, the duty on LPG is 31.61p per kg. Irritatingly these figures are not directly comparable but it is roughly circa 25p a litre. The point is that it is significantly less than petrol and LPG retails at the pump at something around 60% of the cost of a litre of petrol. Prices vary significantly and this is probably because fuel companies can get away with making a larger margin on the LPG because it is cheap! Of course it has to be said that carbon dioxide is still undesirable!

So you would think that everyone would be thinking “autogas” for their cars. But they don’t and that is because the manufacturers don’t. You have to get someone to do a conversion for you costing perhaps £2000. But a Range Rover fitted with a gas conversion on purchase in 2000 when new and having travelled some 230000 kilometres or 145000 miles, can have probably made a fuel cost saving of perhaps £20000 in that time. That is some money!

But over the past year or so, suddenly the LPG pumps are just disappearing. Garages selling LPG for years have had it removed; indeed both Shell and BP are systematically taking them out. Why? There are still many LPG conversions running around but buying the fuel is becoming increasingly difficult. It is out there and you can find it aided by a very useful internet site – mylpg.eu – but you will often have to go off route to get it.

So we are already in one sphere experiencing the problem of what will happen when petrol and diesel starts to get phased out as more and more people buy electric cars, notably when it will not be possible to buy vehicles with internal combustions engines anyway, and that might come before 2030 if the technologies move on well.

But there is a growing market for people with classic cars getting their cars “restored” and having the internal combustion engines removed and electric motors installed in their place. The owners say this means they will be able to use their classic cars after petrol and diesel have become a thing of the past, a time when the fuel, if available at all or indeed permitted, will be very expensive.

We have seen that too with the disappearance of four star petrol. What’s that? That was petrol withdrawn from sale in 2000 and overnight the pumping of lead into the atmosphere ceased. Millenials in the main will never have heard of four star petrol but some vehicles, particularly vintage army vehicles still needed it and still do so it is available in very limited circumstances but at a price!

So if you have a classic car, don’t fret. You will be able to get it converted if you want. Of course at the moment no one quite knows what this will do to the value but if you cannot drive it because there is no fuel, its value is likely to be restricted to “museum” value. The cost of the classic car conversions at the moment is very expensive but maybe it will be worth it to keep your pride and joy.

It is not too early to start thinking “green” when it comes to motor cars but perhaps think about going electric in say three years when the battery technology is likely to have advanced very significantly.

Adrian Leopard 25-07-21

Photo John Cameron

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Adrian Leopard & Company is the trading name of Alderney Offshore Ltd, a company registered in Alderney, Channel Islands number 1220.

Address P O Box 1027, Alderney GY9 3AS

Registered Office Seldomin, Longis Road, Alderney GY9 3YB.

Adrian Leopard & Co is represented in the UK by 3CL (UK) Ltd trading as Adrian Leopard Associates.

Telephone enquiries may be made on 08449-4-08449 or 01684-230360.

E Mail [email protected]

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