One of the 64,000 dollar questions in the industry at present is: should fleets continue to buy vans that use alternative fuels?
Many experts are giving green fuels the thumbs down at present.
Government grants to buy these vehicles ended in March and there are concerns over future residual values.
But the makers of dual-fuel vans – hardly surprisingly – are still trying to talk up the market by pointing out the benefits that such vehicles can bring in terms of fuel costs and air cleanliness.
There is no clear answer to the question, so in this test of the Citroen Berlingo petrol/LPG dual fuel, I will simply present the pluses and minuses and fleet operators will have to decide for themselves.
So let’s start with the plus points.
Firstly, we have the van itself.
The Citroen Berlingo was the first ever light van to be designed as such (previously light vans were all car-derived) and although it was launched in 1995, it is still a force to be reckoned with.
Outside the van is swathed in black plastic to protect it from knocks and scrapes and the cab is stylish, roomy and comfortable.
The dual-fuel version has a 582kg payload and load space of three cubic metres.
Standard equipment includes a driver’s airbag, power steering, guide-me-home headlights, a rubber load floor mat and a 100-litre storage space under the passenger seat.
Secondly let’s look under the bonnet.
This Berlingo is powered by a 1.4-litre petrol engine pumping out 75bhp at 5,500rpm and 89lb-ft of torque at 3,400rpm.
It is noticeably quicker on acceleration than its diesel brothers (a plus point for the driver but probably a minus point for the fleet operator).
This van is certainly a capable performer on the roads.
It’s lively, has its power steering set-up weighted just right and will happily be thrown into corners without complaint.
Flicking between petrol and LPG is effected by simply pressing a button.
When the van is using LPG, the button shows an orange light.
The petrol gauge is in its normal place on the dashboard while the LPG monitor is situated in the floor on the centre console.
There is no jerkiness when the fuel is changed. Unfortunately, ABS brakes are an option at £320.
Turning to the fuel itself, LPG is still cheap at £1.78 per gallon as opposed to £4 for diesel, although the Berlingo will only do about 25 miles per gallon on LPG.