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LGPMap Uses MapPoint and AutoRoute

MP2K talks with Nik Aves, developer of the LGPMap.co.uk web site, which adopted Microsoft's Geography product formats for download on their web site.

1.) What is LPG and what significance has it played in the automobile energy market in the UK?

LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas. It is a by-product of oil production and would otherwise be burned off in the refining process and be wasted as an energy resource. LPG is comparatively clean from both a carbon emissions and low hydrocarbon (70% of those of petrol) point of view. It also contains no PM10 toxic pollution (the black stuff you see coming from a diesel exhaust).

LPG is slightly less efficient then petrol but due to the massive price difference at the pump you can still expect a 40% saving on your fuel bill. Usually there is no drop in performance, but sometimes you can notice a very slight drop at top end.

LPG is relatively new to the UK market, the last 3 years has seen a great rise in awareness in the market. Filling stations are beginning to appear, and the amount of installers are growing. Unfortunately with anything new like this, amongst the reputable installers there are a few who are in it for a fast buck and do not fully understand the technicalities of LPG, therefore when something doesn't go by the book you can be left with an installation that is at best unreliable, and at worst can cause your car damage. Fortunately there is a large LPG presence on the internet and many sites offer advice for anyone looking to getting their car converted. Usually these sites are run by people who have already had a conversion done and are willing to pass on their mistakes/experiences to the LPG virgin (like www.lpgmap.co.uk) As long as you do your homework before getting a conversion done, you will end up spending 40% less on fuel, helping the environment and increasing the lifetime of your vehicle.

2.) How many LPG vehicles and LPG filling stations are there now and what would you estimate for the coming years?

There are less than 100,000 vehicles converted in the UK, but this figure is now increasing dramatically mainly due to extortionate price of petrol, but also because of the environmental benefits.

Currently there are around 1100 filling station in the UK. These are made up of forecourt sites like BP, Shell etc and non-forecourt sites such as your local mechanic. The split is about 50/50 and usually the non-forecourt sites are a penny or two cheaper as they do not have to keep up a nice forecourt/open 24hrs etc. There are around 20-30 sites opening every month nationwide and this seems to be growing as more people get converted.

3.) What legislation or legislation-in-process has given a boost to LPG, do you see LPG as economically viable without government intervention?

Since the UK government are keen to promote 'greener' fuels, the tax on LPG has remained at around 6 pence/litre, This is around 20% tax. If you compare that to Petrol which is taxed at about 80% (around 60 pence/litre) you can see where the price differences come from at the pump, 35p/l (0.55 US$/litre)LPG and 74p/l (1.15 US$/litre) for Unleaded Petrol.

If LPG ever becomes a main stream fuel it will be interesting to see if the government keep the tax so low (somehow, I doubt it!!!)

4.) Please describe for us the environmental benefits that can be acheived by LPG-use.

LPG produces less the following compared to petrol
Nitrogen Oxide 40% less
Carbon Monoxide 75% less
Hydrocarbons 85% less
Ozone 87% less

The reason for this is that LPG has a less complex chemical structure than Petrol or Diesel, so burns more cleanly. (Source http://www.4car.co.uk)

Also, when starting a car from cold on LPG it needs very little or no choke. This is because LPG is a gas at normal atmospheric pressure and does not condense onto the side walls of the piston chamber (due to them being cold). This in turn means that the oil on the walls of the chamber is not dissolved and therefore cold starting on LPG produces less wear on the engine. No choke is needed because the LPG has remained in a gaseous form and therefore burns completely unlike cold starting on petrol.

5.) When did you discover MapPoint and how long have you been using it to offer downloads in .ptm format?

When I first converted to LPG (June 2001) I found an LPG filling station list available from the LPG Authority (www.lpga.co.uk). This list contained the name,address and postcode (zipcode) of all stations in the UK. Because of the sparseness of stations, and the amount of travelling I do, I thought I would import the list into AutoRoute, using the postcode matching facility. Unfortunately the LPGA list was full of errors, such as postcode containing O's instead of 0's and completely wrong postcodes. I set to work correcting as many as I could and created an overlay for my own personal use. I found it so useful, so I made it available for download on my website (www.lpgmap.co.uk) and now I have a mailing list of over 300 people. As postcode matching is not particularly accurate (finds road, but not always correct location) I asked my mailing list to find their local stations and feedback to me Lat/Long co-ordinates, this way the map would become extremely accurate. Currently, the response to the overlay has been amazing, I didn't realise how much time it would save people. Now, people send me information on new sites opening locally to them, I even have a company who send me information on new LPG sites they are commisioning. At this point the Overlay is without doubt, the most accurate within the UK.

I had some calls to support MapPoint as well as AutoRoute (about 4 months ago), so both formats are now downloadable.

A few months ago LPGMAP got involved with Holux-UK (www.holux-uk.com) to produce an overlay for their handheld GPS units. Now, the e-fox (GM-100) unit contains a map with LPG filling station information built in.

I'm aware that I'm not using MapPoint to it's full capabilities so would appreciate any suggestions anyone has of how to improve the overlay.

LINKS
www.lpgmap.co.uk
www.lpga.co.uk
www.4car.co.uk
www.holux-uk.com
www.dotslashslash.com/LPG/LPG.htm
www.syndweb.co.uk/lpg
Yahoo Discussion Group
newsgroup - uk.rec.cars.fuel.lpg

Email me at nik@lpgmap.co.uk for more info.

Discuss this story in the forum.

Author: Nik Aves
Email: nik(AT)lpgmap.co.uk
URL: http://www.lpgmap.co.uk
Nik is the proprietor of LPGMAP, set up originally to help LPG users locate LPG filling stations in the UK. LPGMAP is now a dealer for Holux GPS equipment. Niks full time job is working for Vertu, a subsidiary of Nokia designing exclusive luxury mobile phones ($21,000). As the team leader for the baseband electronics he is constantly kept busy between Vertu and LPGMAP. Previous to Vertu, Nik worked for Philips Semiconductors Southampton (UK), designing future copy protection for DVD using watermark technology. Nik was educated to degree level in Electronics & Communications at Swansea University (UK).



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