A new blend of petrol, known as E10, is under consideration by the government as part of wider plans to meet emissions targets.
E10 picks up its name because it contains 10% ethanol. Currently, petrol available at fuel stations contains around 5% of ethanol. However, it is feared that the introduction of E10 could both drive up prices at the pumps, but also cause damage to some older vehicles.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents the views of the motor industry, says that around 92.2% of petrol-powered cars in the UK are E10 compatible. Back in 2009, all EU state members signed up to the Renewable Energy Directive, which requires 10% of road transport energy to be from renewable sources by 2020.
Fortunately, the vast majority of cars which can’t use E10 are older vehicles, and their number decreases every year as those cars are taken off the road. By 2020, just 3% of petrol vehicles won’t be compatible with E10.
In cars that can’t run on E10 fuel, the ethanol in the petrol will act as a solvent, and can loosen deposits in the fuel system, causing fuel pump, hose, filter and fuel injector blockages. It’s also corrosive to some seals, plastics and metals, and can lead to fuel leaks and even engine failure.
In terms of cost, experts estimate it won’t be a noticeable rise, driving fuel up approximately £40 per year, equivalent to 1p more per litre of fuel