The Indian Auto Gas company, engaged in distributing LPG for automobiles, plans to set up 1,000 gas filling stations across the country over a three year period at a cost of Rs. 700 crore, according to a top company official.

The company, which now has 30 outlets on the outskirts of Chennai, would add the remaining 970 outlets by the year 2013. .

“We will invest around Rs 700 crore for the expansion. We want to be a pan—India operator over the next three years”, Indian Auto Gas CEO S. M. Antony Thomas told PTI here.

He said 90 per cent of these outlets would be franchise based and the remaining, company owned. Agreements had already been signed with 13 companies in this regard, he said.

The company would raise the funds through internal accrual and debts from Banks, he said.

Stating that 95 per cent of the industry was largely unorganised, he said the future is bright for LPG driven vehicles as the focus increasingly was on “clean environment.”

“We have been witnessing a constant rise on usage of LPG vehicles. With company fitted vehicles hitting the road, many customers prefer LPG fitted cars”, he said.

Currently, vehicles like “Omni”, “800”, Wagon R from Maruti Suzuki, Santro, Accent from Hyundai Motor, Spark from General Motors, Cedia from Hindustan Motors are available for customers in petrol and LPG versions, he said.

Pointing to volatility in global fuel prices and carbon dioxide emission from vehicles,he urged the government to take proactive measures to run LPG fitted public transport vehicles “The government should also give subsidy and incentives and allot land to set up LPG stations,” he said.

Mr. Thomas said the company had also submitted a memorandum to the Tamil Nadu government to make all Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses run on LPG. “We have given our proposal to the Government”, he said.

He said there were difficulties in setting up LPG stations across the country, one of which was that a bunk needs to be at least 50 meters away from a private building. ”As we are not able to get land in such conditions in the city, we are unable to set up such stations”, he said.

Mr. Thomas said the necessary equipment for the LPG stations was being imported from Dubai and Sharjah.

On the company’s performance, he said Indian Auto Gas registered a turnover of Rs. 17 crore in 2008 - 09 and aimed to achieve Rs. 22 crore by 2009 -10.

Mr. Thomas said they have been growing year-on-year at a rate of 24 per cent. Though there was some lack of awareness of LPG fitted vehicles, it has increased of late, with the focus now begin on a pollution free environment,” he said.