LUTON, UK - Vauxhall has developed bi-fuel versions of the Omega, Vectra and Combo van for the UK, and Opel is considering extending the program to the rest of Europe.
The cars operate with either gasoline or liquid petroleum gas (LPG).
Vauxhall is also developing a bi-fuel Astra. The bi-fuel version costs $3,150 more, but much lower fuel prices for LPG could make the vehicles attractive to fleets. Vauxhall will operate 50 demonstration models this year, and expects sales of several hundred units.
The development by Vauxhall, and not Opel or GM, is unusual. Vauxhall is generally seen as a marketing division only.
However, because GM's UK factories fall under the Vauxhall umbrella, it has some engineering capability as well.
Vauxhall decided to respond to mounting political and environmental pressures in the UK independently of Opel and GM, said Niki Leahy, Vauxhall environmental affairs manager.
'We are very interested in what Vauxhall is doing because LPG will be a growing business,' said Hans-Dieter Pospiech, Opel aftermarket product development engineer.
He said UK engineers will probably meet with Opel engineers at the International Technical Develop-ment Center at Ruesselsheim to plan a joint approach.