Rules changed to allow more LPG cars on roads

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Rules changed to allow more LPG cars on roads

More people will be able to drive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-run vehicles, although concerns remain of a lack of infrastructure to fuel the relatively eco-friendly vehicle.

As part of a wider government effort to promote cleaner fuel sources as fine dust pollution fouls the air, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Monday that it completed amending LPG-related business and safety laws starting today, allowing ordinary people to buy LPG vehicles.

The amendments also allow installation of LPG systems in existing gasoline or diesel vehicles.

According to the Trade Ministry, LPG vehicles produce three times fewer nitrogen oxide emissions than gasoline cars - and 93 times fewer than diesel cars.

LPG is also a much cheaper fuel. According to the Korea National Oil Corporation on Monday, LPG prices for vehicles cost 797.04 won per liter ($2.66 per gallon) currently compared to gasoline prices of 1,386.32 won per liter - a 74 percent difference.

Infrastructure to fuel LPG vehicles, however, is not very developed.

According to a report by Korea Investment & Securities, there were only 1,948 LPG stations in Korea compared to 11,540 gas stations this month.

Seoul has only 77 LPG stations, leading to worries that LPG vehicle owners will find it hard to refuel.

Prospective customers will also initially be limited in their selection of LPG vehicles, which have largely been used as commercial vehicles.

LPG vehicle purchases and registrations were previously only possible for exempted groups such as the handicapped and people of national merit like war veterans, or for taxi companies.

The general public was restricted from owning the vehicles due to limitations in LPG supply at the time the regulations were introduced.

The amendments were passed by the National Assembly earlier this month. Lawmakers passed them with nearly unanimous approval, emphasizing that the vehicles will help reduce fine dust emissions.

Automakers are releasing new LPG models such as Hyundai Motor’s new Sonata sedan and Renault Samsung Motors’ QM6 SUV.

The Trade Ministry expects the number of registered LPG vehicles to increase from 2.04 million last year to 2.82 million by 2030.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]

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