Martyn Raybould

Martyn Raybould

E10 Fuel Explained

E10 or 10% Ethanol and 90% petroleum based fuel is the new fuel the UK government is pretty much forcing people to buy to help reduce CO2 and other emissions to achieve its targets set.  The present E5 (5% Ethanol) will be upgraded to a ‘Super fuel’ cost, to price it higher and encourage owners of modern cars, post 2010 to use the E10 and save money so to speak.  (Although apparently post 2002 should also be OK to use this new fuel).

So what is Ethanol?

Ethanol is naturally produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts and vegetables via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration. Ethanol is a vegetable-based alcohol /fuel source.  It also has other applications in medicine and hygiene.

Where does it come from?

Corn is one of the plan products used to make Ethanol

The end fuel produced comes from using a ‘Petrochemical hydration process from plant products like Corn, hemp, Potatoes, sugarcane and cassava.

Why is it being used and promoted in the UK?

The UK government claim that changing to E10 will provide the equivalent of some 750,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, equal to 350,000 cars removed from our roads.

So,

Is Ethanol as effective in running an engine as normal fuels?

No.  Ethanol has a ‘Petrol Gallon Efficiency’ value of around 1.5.  This means to replace the energy of 1 gallon of petrol, it needs 1.5 times the volume of ethanol needed.  So, from the launch of E10 onwards:

  1. The government will make more money in fuel tax, because drivers will need to use a little more E10 fuel to deliver the same mileage as before
  2. Your car will need to use 50% more in the 10% portion of the gallon of fuel you buy.  This is the same as around 1% reduction in fuel efficiency overall
  3. So what is the point?  Although there is reduction is efficiency (More fuel consumption), the benefit to the environment is that bio-fuel (Crops) will replace a portion of the Petro-chemical fuel. (Fossil fuel)

How much does the UK government make in fuel tax annually?

Fuel duty is around 57.95p per litre for both petrol and diesel, while VAT at 20% is then charged on both the product price and the duty.  This amounts to around £28 Billion tax, that drivers pay to use their cars in the UK

What does E10 have to do with Classic and older cars?

Classic cars from the early 20th Century

What about older and non compatible cars?

It is expected that some three-quarters of a million (Around 700,000) cars will not run effectively and may be damaged by using E10 fuel.  This is why E5 will continue to be produced but sold more expensively to force E10 purchase. So, if you have a Classic petrol-based car, you should begin using ‘Super-Unleaded’ fuel from September 1st 2021

Ford Cortina Mk3 is a popular and common classic owned by enthusiasts

How can E10 damage my classic car?

The issue affects a range of parts to the vehicle, in particular fuel pumps, fuel lines-pipes and carburettors.  The longer the E10 is used in an older engine, the more damage will slowly progress

*The Specialist Vehicle Association are not petro-chemical experts, the advice herein is general and gathered from our own research using a wide range of information available.  Car owners should make their own investigations in this matter, based on the specific car they drive-own.  The SVA cannot accept responsibility for any damage caused by using inappropriate fuel in your car.

So, what next?

E10 fuel wont be instantly available across the UK, these things can take months or even years to happen.  Also, variations will be evident in different regions of the UK

E10 fuel will need to be clearly displayed at the pump to help owners make an informed purchase. so, continue to use E5.  When and if available, ‘Super-Unleaded’ will be the suggested fuel for Classic cars.

What does the UK government say

Below is the advice according to the UK government on classic cars:

The following vehicles, however, may not be compatible with E10 petrol:

  • classic, cherished and older vehicles
  • some specific models, particularly those from the early 2000s
  • some mopeds, particularly those with an engine size of 50cc or under

You can check whether your vehicle is approved to use E10 petrol using our E10 vehicle checker, which covers cars, motorcycles and mopeds.

Check My Car

If your brand or model is not listed, consult your manual or contact your vehicle or equipment manufacturer. Vehicle MOT garages or workshops may also be able to advise on cars, vans and motorcycles. If in doubt, continue to use E5 (97+ octane) petrol.

‘Classic vehicles‘ by the UK government

Many manufactures of classic cars are not listed in the vehicle checker. Where older brands are no longer trading, we cannot provide specific information on vehicle compatibility. Owners of vehicles not listed in the vehicle checker should continue to use E5 (97+ octane) petrol, which will remain available in the ‘super’ grade.

For further information, we recommend contacting classic vehicle owners’ clubs and associations, as well as garages that may be able to provide advice.                               

Continue to use E5 petrol in the ‘super’ grade (97+ octane), which will remain available at many larger filling stations. Make sure you check the label before you fill-up.

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