Motorists across the UK will see a greener fuel at the pumps from September 2021 when the standard (or ‘Premium’) petrol grade will become E10.
E10 fuel is an eco-friendly blend of petrol and ethanol that could cut transport CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year. That cut in emissions is the equivalent to 350,000 fewer cars on the road, or all the cars in North Yorkshire.
As well as cutting emissions, the introduction of E10 will boost job opportunities in the north east, securing up to 100 jobs with the reopening of AB Sugar’s Vivergo plant, and increasing production at existing biofuel plants including Ensus. The ethanol is made from materials including low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood.
The 2 petrol blends that are currently widely available in the UK contain no more than 5% ethanol, known as E5; the fuel being rolled out in September has up to 10%.
A small number of older vehicles, including classic cars and some from the early 2000s, will continue to need E5 fuel, which is why supplies of E5 petrol will be maintained in the ‘Super’ grade.
The Government has published a compatibility checker on the DfT website so that motorists can see if their vehicle is compatible.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Although more and more motorists are driving electric vehicles, there are steps we can take to reduce emissions from the millions of vehicles already on our roads – the small switch to E10 petrol will help drivers across the country reduce the environmental impact of every journey.”
E10 petrol is compatible with almost all (95%) petrol-powered vehicles on the road today, including all cars built since 2011.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) says, for example, that all BMWs can use E10, but warns this is not the case for every marque. Almost all Mercedes models can use E10, but the C200 CGI and CLK 200 CGI made from 2002 to 2005 cannot. Nevertheless, E10 has been sold in Europe - most notably in France and Belgium - alongside E5 for several years.
The DfT has not yet set a deadline for when UK petrol stations will be required to offer E10. It will not be offered alongside E5 unleaded at the same forecourt, though - once a fuel station has switched to E10, standard E5 will no longer be available there. Motorists whose cars aren’t compatible with E10 will still be able to purchase E5 petrol in super-unleaded form, though, with the DfT confirming the UK will maintain a supply of this fuel.
Edmund King, president of the AA, voiced support for the launch of E10, but pointed out that the Government's own impact assessments had predicted the move would result in a 1.6 per cent overall increase in petrol prices. He added: “That will rub many drivers the wrong way, but the AA expects the Chancellor, who will get more fuel duty from more fuel consumed, will not have to increase fuel duty in the Budget next week.”
Previous research by the RAC Foundation indicated 28,000 Volkswagen Golfs, 18,162 Mazda MX-5s and almost 16,000 Nissan Micras in the UK are unable to run on E10.
A spokesperson from UKPIA (UK Petroleum Industry Association), which represents major fuel suppliers in the UK, advised: “If an owner of a classic or cherished car is uncertain of their vehicle’s compatibility with petrol containing more than 5 per cent ethanol and is unable to obtain guidance from the vehicle manufacturer, they can avoid potential difficulties by using the super grade.”