What Car? tests show that a "greener" fuel to be launched in the UK this year will be less efficient & could cost motorists billions

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The launch of new, "greener" vehicle fuel onto the nation's forecourts later this year has been called "irresponsible" by the auto magazine What Car? After real-world testing, What Car? suggests that the E10 petrol could cost UK drivers billions of pounds a year and increase harmful CO2 tailpipe emissions.

The introduction of the new fuel, which contains 10% bio-ethanol, is on the back of European Union (EU) regulations designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive requires 10% of road transport energy to be from renewable sources by 2020.

However, What Car?'s tests show that the new fuel is less efficient across every engine type tested than the current E5 formula containing 5% bio-ethanol. Until now, E10 fuel has only been tested in laboratory conditions and the potential impact on fuel economy had not been communicated to motorists.

The full report and figures are published in What Car? magazine, on sale today. Editor-in-chief Chas Hallett is calling for the Government to carry out comprehensive, UK-focused testing in order to better understand the financial impact of the new petrol.

“The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the detrimental effect of E10 on fuel economy is between three and four percent, but even our small sample of tests proves otherwise,” he said.

“To lead consumers into E10 without fully communicating the significant impact on fuel economy, particularly for drivers least able to absorb the extra costs, is irresponsible.”

The Test
What Car? tested E10 against E0 ‘pure’, conventional petrol so they could directly compare the results with those of the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has carried out similar tests. The cars used were a three-cylinder turbo (Dacia Sandero), a naturally aspirated car (Hyundai i30), a hybrid (Toyota Prius+) and a four-cylinder turbo (Mini Paceman).

The Sandero struggled the most, returning an 11.5% drop in economy. The 99bhp i30 was almost as bad, managing 9.8% less miles on E10.

It’s not just economy that is harmed by the use of E10. CO2 tailpipe emissions also increased in every vehicle tested by What Car?, although the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership asserts that these increases would be partially offset by the renewable properties of bio-ethanol and the fact that the crops used to produce it absorb CO2 while growing.

Overall, the What Car? tests suggest that more powerful cars cope better with a higher ethanol content, leaving smaller cars – often bought by drivers on a tighter budget – worst affected.

Furthermore, not every car on the roads will even be able to use E10 – the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says that 92% of UK cars are compatible, but that leaves approximately 1.5 million petrol vehicles potentially at risk. These are more likely to be older vehicles, again of the sort owned by those on tighter budgets.

Visit www.whatcar.com/e10 for the full story.

Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership - www.lowcvp.org.uk

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders - www.smmt.co.uk

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