LPG whiz, saving’s a gas
LPG can cut your fuel bill up to 50 per cent, writes, JAMES STANFORD
HERE are three letters that could cut your fuel bill in half: L, P and G. Until now, sales of LPGequipped models have been pretty much limited to company cars. With petrol prices surging towards $1.70 a litre and diesel hitting $1.90, more people are looking at LPG, which costs about $0.65. Ford and Holden offer LPGequipped new cars. Holden sells a Commodore with a dual-fuel LPG system fitted by HSV that costs $3900, or $1900 if you qualify for the LPG government grant. It is looking at cutting that price to increase interest and is also working on a dedicated LPG Commodore that will be better and cheaper. Ford Australia has long pushed LPG and introduced its dedicated LPG system for the Falcon in 1999, calling it E-Gas. Now it has introduced the E-Gas variant for the FG Falcon range. The E-Gas option is available on three FG models, the base XT, G6 and G6E. You can also get E-Gas for three ute models and the BF III wagon. Choosing an E-Gas engine costs $1400, dipping to $400 with the government grant. Though the new models come with all the other improvements of the FG upgrade, the E-Gas engine has not changed. The 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder was upgraded in 2005 and has dual overhead camshafts, that are independently variable. It runs only on LPG and, unlike many after-market dual-fuel conversions, has stronger conrods and harder valve seats specially designed to make sure the engine runs properly for the long run. The Ford system uses a converter that mixes the LPG with air before it goes into the manifold at a single point. This is not as advanced as the system used by Holden and most after market kits, which inject LPG vapour into each cylinder like a petrol engine. The E-Gas engine uses more fuel than the petrol version. The official figure is 14.9 litres a 100km, compared with 10.5 litres/100km for petrol but the LPG is far cheaper. The Falcon E-Gas engine produces 156kW of power and 371Nm of torque, compared with 195kW and 391Nm of the petrol version. Though the new base FG Falcon sedan and utes are now fitted with a five-speed automatic, the E-Gas soldiers on with the four-speed automatic made by Drive Systems International in Albury. E-Gas models have linked LPG tanks that measure a total of 93 litres, providing a reasonable range. To accommodate the larger tank volume, Ford has moved the spare wheel into the boot of the sedan and wagon. The ute is not affected. Unfortunately, Ford has not engineered electronic stability control for E-Gas Falcons.