E10 Petrol: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Government’s Plan

The government has launched a consultation into introducing E10 petrol as the nation’s standard petrol grade. Here’s what you need to know…

E10 Petrol – A New Standard?

The government has formally launched a consultation into introducing E10 petrol as the nation’s standard fuel grade; replacing the E5 variety that’s currently used. The difference between these is relatively simple. The number represents the percentage of bioethanol content in the fuel. So, with E5 it’s 5% bioethanol and in E10 it’s 10%. Last year, fuel names like ‘E5’ were introduced to inform drivers of bioethanol content.

By introducing E10 petrol as the new standard, the government would hope to reduce CO2 emissions on the nation’s roads. This would go some way in reaching the 2050 goal of net-zero carbon emissions. The change, according to the government, would be equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off of the road; cutting CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year. As a part of its Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, the government must render 9.75% of transport fuels renewable by the end of the year.

A Complicated Transition 

Changing a standard fuel grade is easier said than done. There are concerns that older cars will be damaged by the new grade; or won’t be compatible at all. The bioethanol is thought to be corrosive to a variety of car components; including seals, gaskets and hoses. It’s worth remembering that an ‘old’ car is not necessarily a ‘classic’ one. Think of cars that are ten or so years older.

Rachel Maclean, Parliamentary Under Secretary (DFT), has admitted that the greatest problem with the new grade is the number of cars that are incompatible. In Parliament she said, “one of the main barriers to introducing E10 has been vehicle compatibility. Currently, around 95% of petrol cars used in the UK can use E10, but around 700,000 are not warranted by their manufacturers to use E10″. She went on to suggest that, should E10 be standardised, E5 could be kept on as a ‘protection grade’.

Another pressing matter concerns logistics. The single UK-based facility that produced E10 is no longer operational; meaning the fuel additive would need to be imported. The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs has suggested that the carbon produced by importing it could negate any benefits. It’s endorsed keeping E5 as a ‘protection grade’.

Hitting The Poorest Hardest?

For the RAC, the government’s plans could place strains on the nation’s poorest drivers. It believes that a ‘protection grade’ would be suitable for niche or classic drivers, but not the general population; having simply made the fuel more expensive.

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, acknowledged the need to reduce emissions but stressed the challenges involved with doing so. He said, “here could be as many as 600,000 vehicles on our roads that aren’t compatible with the fuel. Many of these are likely to be owned by those from lower-income backgrounds and while it is welcome that E5 petrol is not being phased out altogether, owners of these vehicles will face higher fuel costs – and will also have to hunt out those forecourts that still sell E5″.

Williams also expressed concerns that a number of forecourts would lack the means to offer both E5 and E10 petrol. He also emphasised that drivers will need to be properly informed of the changes. He said, “we’d like to see the DVLA writing to these owners to inform them that E5 will no longer be the standard premium grade, and to let them know their options. This, alongside a trusted online resource where drivers can quickly identify if their vehicles are E10 compatible or not, will go a long way to avoiding any expensive problems from filling up wrongly with the new blend”. He concluded, “for the overwhelming majority of drivers with compatible vehicles, the introduction of E10 petrol will make little difference other than a possible slight reduction in fuel economy”.

The Bottom Line

E10 Petrol is somewhat greener than E5. Although precisely how the UK produces or imports it will determine by how much (if at all). Plans are in place to still offer E5 but it remains to be seen whether it’ll be accessible to the 700,000 drivers with incompatible cars. As for the drivers of compatible cars, the introduction of E10 is bound to go largely unnoticed, barring the possibility of a very slight increase in fuel costs. Either way, it’s a lot of trouble for seemingly very modest reductions in C02.

Red Diesel: Here’s Everything Drivers Need To Know – https://autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/red-diesel-heres-everything-drivers-need-to-know/

Coronavirus Causes Fastest Fuel Price Drop In 20 Years – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/coronavirus-causes-fastest-fuel-price-drop-in-20-years/

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