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Navigation aidRoad maps issued by LPG distributors or associations

A growing minority of cars have been fuelled by Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) since the 1960s, although it was first tested for road use as far back as 1912. In Western Europe these have mainly been in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Italy, although there have been attempts to introduce it as a fuel in Britain and France as well. In the old Communist bloc, LPG has been enthusiastically taken up in Poland. However as LPG stations are much less common than petrol sites, several companies (as well as trade associations and commercial publishers) have found it worthwhile to distribute maps showing LPG refuelling points.

Links to brands on this page in alphabetical order: BK   Calor   Carbugaz   Cargas   Primagaz   VIFF

Top of PageBelgium: Cargas

1982 Cargas LPG map of Belgium

Cargas was the dominant distributor of auto-LPG in Belgium in the 1970s (only the small MEA-Gas was also active until the main petrol companies started selling the fuel under their own names). Owned for many years by the French major, Total, it was acquired by SHV (along with Primagaz) in 1999. Many stations now just promote LPG generically, even when it is supplied by Cargas or Primagaz's VIFF subsidiary.
This is a simple De Rouck map at 1:410,000 dating from June 1982. The 150 Cargas outlets are numbered on the map. On the reverse there is information on how to convert cars to LPG and how to fill up safely. The addresses of the numbered outlets are included - these were at Fina, Total, Chevron, Elf, Aral, BP, Esde, Nafta and Gulf petrol stations.
Image & details courtesy Michel Breugelmans

Cargas first became VIFF Cargas and then part of Primagaz.

Top of PageBritain: Calor Autogas

1982 Calor Autogas map of Britain

Calor Autogas (formerly Calor Autoblend) was the largest UK supplier of auto-LPG in the first wave of installations in the late 1970s. (Smaller names included Motorgas, Hidrive Autogas and Rogas.) Calor, still owned by the grandly named Imperial Continental Gas Association, had for many years dominated the UK bottled gas market and had bought out BOC Autogas in 1975. This 1982 map bears a strong similarity in design to the Cargas and Viff maps (above and below) and the example shown here was found in Belgium, having been used by a tourist from that country.
Calor was subsequently demerged in 1987, and became part of the SHV Group (owner of PAM); although the number of its LPG outlets fell in the early 1990s, Government support has brought the number of outlets back to in excess of 1,000 today.

Top of PageFrance/Benelux: Primagaz & VIFF

1983 VIFF (and others) map of France

1983 VIFFadvert from map of France

This map was issued in 1983 (with a revised edition in June 1984). LPG sites were located by number on a Recta-Foldex map of France, with details addresses listed for each such site. The cover shows VIFF, Esso, Mobil, Agip, Avia and Aral with equal prominence, but inside a clear majority of the sites and all the advertising were VIFF. At one time VIFF was owned by Picoty, the largest AVIA participant, but today it is part of Primagaz, a long established bottled gas supplier bought by SHV in 1999. The list also included sites for the independent distributors CARBUR and RC (Regis Carburants).

Later in the 1980s, VIFF also issued a map shared with fellow subsidiary Cargas, where one side was a VIFF map if France and the reverse a Cargas map of Belgium.

By 1991 (right) the VIFF branding was dominant, although the map was still split between France on one side, numbering all VIFF locations (again including ones at Esso, Mobil, Agip, Avia and Aral stations) and Benelux on the reverse. In Belgium the name had become Cargas VIFF, but the relatively few Dutch sites were solely named as VIFF. GT Gabelli prepared the map, which also carried a Primagaz advert.

1991 VIFF LPG map of France and Benelux

2000 Primagaz map
2000 Primagaz map (Lorraine)

By June 2000, the primary branding had become Primagaz, although the payment card still used the VIFF name. The sheet map had been replaced by a 50 page booklet with serviceable maps arranged by region of France. Cartography was by GT Gabelli s.a.r.l. to a scale of 1:1,450,000, with additional maps for Paris and six other cities.
Each map was over-printed with LPG outlets by brand, colour-coded and numbered with cross reference to an address list. Primagaz supplied stations selling Esso (red), Avia (black), Dyneff (brown) and VIFF (dark blue). The booklet also showed stations supplied by Shell's Butagaz subsidiary at locations branded Shell (yellow), BP (green), Fina (purple) and Gepel (light blue). Butagaz has sold bottled gas since 1931 and moved into auto-LPG by establishing Gepel in 1980, allowing it to work closely with BP as well as Shell.
Most of the VIFF/Gepel outlets shown on the map were at hypermarkets, although there were a few at Agip or independent petrol stations. There were no Carbur or RC filling stations listed any more, and Aral was also absent as in the meantime it had been bought by Total.

Legend from 2000 Primagaz map

ca2002 Primagaz map of Belgium

As noted above, Cargas first became VIFF and then Primagaz in Belgium, as it came under SHV's ownership. This sheet map is undated but from around 2002 and marks all Primagaz locations on a de Rouck/Multiroad map at 1:400,000 scale. On the reverse full details are given about each station: Primagaz LPG was most commonly found at Texaco (72) and Jet (64) stations, with lesser numbers at TotalFina (25), Octa+ (20), Q8 (18) and independent names such as Power, Pollet and Missil (7 each). A further 53 locations were at smaller brands, free stations or occasional sites of big names such as Shell. The rear also carried the obligatory safety tips.

Top of PageFrance: Carbugaz

1999 Carbugaz map of France

1999 Carbugaz map of France - rear

Elf's Antar subsidiary had long been a market leader in bottled gas, so after the two firms merged the LPG offering was called Elf Antargaz. With the growing importance of auto-LPG in the 1990s, road fuel was sold under the Carbugaz name. The left map was the first to be offered by Carbugaz, and dates from Spring 1999. It was a fairly simple design by GT Gabelli, listing all outlets with a number to locate them on the map itself. By the third edition (right), in Summer 2000, the Elf name had been moved onto the front cover.

2000 Carbugaz-Elf map of France

The petrol brand is shown for almost all stations - it is nearly always Elf but occasionally Club or Elan (two names used by authorised distributors of Elf) or one of the major hypermarkets. After the merger with TotalFina, Elf was forced to sell its Elf Antargaz bottled gas subsidiary, but retained the Carbugaz operation as it was tightly linked to the petrol stations: the fuel was however rebranded to Totalgaz. Antargaz was revived by its new owners as a name for LPG sold to motorists, mainly through hypermarket chains such as Cora, Géant and Auchan.

Top of PageNetherlands: BK

BK was the first distinctively branded LPG on sale in Europe, although it has always been restricted to the Netherlands, where LPG was readily available as a by-product of the large petroleum refining industry in Rotterdam. Controlled by the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (Shell's 60% owner), most of its locations were attached to Shell stations, although it could also be found at some Aral sites and a few at other chains. Perhaps surprisingly, BK maps are uncommon, although this may be because they were only used by domestic motorists owning LPG-fuelled cars, and so few were picked up by visiting tourists. The example shown here dates from 1994 and is the Michelin single sheet 408 of the Netherlands at 1/400,000. BK stations are not listed nor marked on the map - probably because by 1994 LPG was so widely available in the country it was no longer necessary to use the map for locational purposes.

1994 BK Autogas map of Netherlands

Other brands

Top of PageRemarkably, given the need for drivers to seek out LPG sites in countries where they are less common than petrol stations, no other independently branded LPG maps are known. There is an annual directory giving principal locations in all European countries, and TOTAL has published maps showing where TOTALGaz LPG sites are found in France. I have yet to see maps from such major names as ButanGas (Italy) or Cargas, Flogas or Ergas (Ireland), as well as from any of the increasing number of smaller names in Belgium or the Netherlands.

Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2000-6

All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.