Frequently Asked Questions

Can diesel be used in converted vehicles if SVO is unavailable?
Yes, these conversions enable the vehicle to run on multifuels which includes SVO or diesel or any mixture of the two fuels.

Will I have to inform my insurance company?
Yes, it is necessary to inform your insurance company, however most insurance companies will simply amend the vehicle policy without any additional premium. Insurance companies that have given cover to converted vehicles without any complications include: Frissel/Liverpool and Victoria, Norwich Union, Cornhill and NFU.

Will the conversion affect the servicing of the vehicle?
This depends on whether the engine of the vehicle is of direct or indirect injection design. With converted indirect injection vehicles there is no change to the usual servicing routine however it is a good precautionary move to have the components of the kit checked periodically to ensure that they are fully functional. Converted direct injection vehicles generally require a different service regime with regard to the engine’s lubricant. A plant oil based lubricant is used instead of the mineral lubricant and this needs to be changed at shorter intervals.

How does SVO compare with biodiesel?
SVO and Biodiesel are quite different fuels however they are often confused as biodiesel is produced from SVO. Biodiesel is made when vegetable oil molecules are split four ways by a chemical reaction called transesterification. Since biodiesel is produced from SVO it also has low net CO2 emissions. However, since the transesterification reaction requires energy and some of the chemicals needed to carry out the reaction generally come from fossil fuels this means that biodiesel has higher net CO2 emissions than SVO. In short, SVO is the better of the two fuels for reducing CO2 emissions.

How many hectares would be required to grow the fuel for one car, and is there enough land available in the world to grow our fuel?
A hectare of oil seed rape can produce roughly a 1000 litres of oil which if used through a reasonably economic converted diesel car can provide 10,000 miles worth of motoring; a distance many drivers cover in a year. It is extremely unlikely that all the world’s vehicles currently running on fossil fuels could instead be powered by vegetable oil. Like other renewables SVO is only part of the solution to meeting our energy requirements sustainably and needs to be combined with attempts to reduce current unsustainable levels of energy consumption.

How is the performance and fuel efficiency of the engine affected?
Research has backed up anecdotal evidence that vegetable oil gives a slightly better power performance than diesel in engines compared before and after conversion. Studies on fuel efficiency give conflicting results with some studies showing higher miles per gallon (MPG) on SVO as compared to diesel and others showing less. Anecdotal experience has been that MPG on SVO is approximately the same as that on diesel.

What are emissions like with SVO?
Converted vehicles running on SVO generally clear the MOT emissions test well. The emissions of SVO are considered comparable to diesel with the exception that the CO2 produced from SVO is carbon neutral.

Is it possible just to blend vegetable oil with diesel and use this in an unconverted engine?
There is probably a blend of SVO and diesel that will function in diesel engines without causinglong term damage. However it is difficult to say whether this is a 20% or a 2% blend of SVO to diesel, as few reliable trials have been completed. Veg Oil Motoring cannot recommend a blend, and vehicle owners trying this method of using SVO do so at their own risk. It is important to be aware that this approach is more likely to cause problems with direct injection engines and engines with the unsuitable pumps mentioned above.

How does a conversion affect the warranty of the vehicle?
Manufacturer’s warranties are usually invalidated for vehicles that are converted to run on SVO. An exception to this is Caterpillar (South Africa) who provide full warranty on some of their vehicles to run with-out modification on pure sunflower oil. It is therefore best to convert vehicles outside of warranty.

How much does a conversion cost?
An Elsbett “one tank” conversion, including the price of the kit and its installation, generally costs around £1200. However, since kits are vehicle specific and can vary in price this figure can occasionally go up to around £1400 for non heavy goods vehicles.

What is the pay back period for the kit?
With a twenty pence saving in fuel price per litre it is possible to pay back the cost of a £1200 conversion on large vehicles after around 26,000 miles. Vehicles with greater fuel economy will take a greater distance for pay back.

How do converted vehicles perform in cold weather?
As vegetable oil becomes thicker at lower temperatures Elsbett recommend blending winter diesel and vegetable oil at temperatures approaching -10°C to allow for normal operation. If the temperature is likely to go down to -15°C then the SVO should be completely switched to winter diesel.

How long does it take to convert a vehicle?
With certain types of vehicles it is necessary to have the fuel injectors for the vehicle machined in the Elsbett workshops in Germany. The conversion period required for these vehicles has to take into account the time needed to send the injectors to Germany and for them to be returned. This period usually takes as little as seven days however vehicle owners should be prepared that period could take longer. If injector work can be done in the UK then the conversion period is 5 days.