Speaking to ENDS at the launch of the partnership - which will help implement the Government's strategy for powering future vehicles (ENDS Report 331 p 46 ) - Graham Smith, managing director of Toyota GB, said that LPG could make only "a limited contribution" towards a low-carbon future.
Mr Smith said that grants awarded by the Energy Saving Trust to encourage conversion of vehicles to LPG, along with reduced duty on the fuel, are preventing a level playing-field between future fuels. He voiced support for hybrid vehicles which, because of their much lower CO2 emissions, "are far more positive solutions" to the carbon problem.
The criticism came on the back of threats by London Mayor Ken Livingstone to remove the congestion charge exemption for LPG vehicles. Since the exemption was announced applications for EST grants have risen by 80%, from 30 to 55 a week. The applications came mainly from fleet operators.
Ministers have also been dropping hints that the reduced rate of fuel duty on LPG may not endure at the same level beyond 2004. A decision is likely in the forthcoming Budget (ENDS Report 335, pp 42-43 ).