Holden strikes on LPG front

Gassed Com­modores priced to be win­ners, write NEIL McDON­ALD and PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AN LPG bat­tle is bub­bling as GM Holden cuts the cost of a gas-pow­ered Com­modore to at­tack Ford’s Fal­con. ded­i­cated E-Gas Fal­con XT starts from $37,890 and, with 10 LPG mod­els, the G6E tops the bat­ting at $48,390.

But Holden is go­ing in harder and will have a 60th an­niver­sary Com­modore sedan run­ning on LPG from $33,990, with run­ning costs it be­lieves will ri­val a Toy­ota Corolla.

The Red Lion will have LPG in the Omega and Ber­lina sedans and the Omega ute. And, just as Ford now sells 25 per cent of its Fal­cons with the E-Gas pack, it is ex­pect­ing a sig­nif­i­cant sales boost.

The bot­tom line on the Holden move is a $1500 price cut on its du­al­fuel LPG cars from Septem­ber 1.

Holden says LPG is be­com­ing pop­u­lar as a fuel choice with private cus­tomers and com­pany fleets.

‘‘It al­ready has an es­tab­lished in­fra­struc­ture,’’ Holden spokesman John Lind­say says.

He em­pha­sises the short pay­back time on an LPG buy, par­tic­u­larly with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment re­bate.

‘‘We es­ti­mate that to re­coup that money will take four months. The pay­back on the ute is a lit­tle longer at 11 months,’’ he says.

But LPG is just one plank of GMHolden’s al­ter­na­tive fuel push, which in­cludes E85 ethanol fuel and com­pressed nat­u­ral gas.

‘‘A lot of our range of so­lu­tions for al­ter­na­tive fu­els and tech­nol­ogy are still go­ing to be aimed at our lo­cal pro­duc­tion of a large car,’’ GM Holden chair­man Mark Reuss says.

Reuss be­lieves there is a role for the large car be­cause of its flex­i­bil­ity, par­tic­u­larly with fam­i­lies who could not choose a small car.

‘‘It’s a real im­por­tant abil­ity to be able to carry peo­ple and be com­fort­able,’’ Reuss says.

He dis­agrees with the idea that large cars have fallen out of fash­ion with buy­ers, many of whom are in­creas­ingly mov­ing to off-road­ers.

‘‘In June we still had the best sell­ing car in Aus­tralia,’’ he says.

GM-Holden has sold 737 fac­to­ry­fit­ted LPG Ber­lina and Omega cars with dual fuel this year. July was the strong­est month, with 185 sales. But that’s only about 5 per cent of to­tal Ber­lina and Omega sales.

LPG costs about 65 cents a litre, com­pared with about $1.50 for petrol.

Work­ing for the money: the Com­modore VE Omega ute will be of­fered as an LPG op­tion.

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