Fleet News

Government consultation on bioethanol criticised

Fleet news logo

The Government has been criticised by renewable energy experts for launching another consultation on E10 petrol (petrol with 10% renewable bioethanol).

The Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation on whether and how it should introduce E10 fuel – which contains more bioethanol than traditional petrol – to the UK market, last week.

Richard Royal, head of Government affairs at Vivergo, a producer of bioethanol, welcomed the “positive comments” regarding E10 and the ultimate desire to see it introduced, but he said: “We are immensely frustrated by the ongoing delays that this process causes.

“The overriding sense is one of the Government ‘kicking the can down the road’, an approach which puts our entire industry at risk, along with the thousands of jobs and British farms that depend upon us.”

He said that the Department for Transport (DfT) had investigated these options multiple times, through working groups, select committee inquiries, consultations and private meetings with industry, and has answers to many of these questions – primarily recommending the mandated introduction of E10.

“Yet another call for evidence, followed by another consultation, only adds to the industry’s precarious position and calls into question whether the Government is taking the advice and the ultimate aim of cleaning up transport seriously,” continued Royal.

“We also disagree with the document’s assertion that E10’s impact on air quality is ‘negligible’ – countless recent studies have shown a direct correlation between increasing ethanol levels and reducing pollutants such as particulates, as well as suggesting that E10 could reduce NOx by up to 34%, particulate matter and nanoparticles by up to 96%, and carcinogens by around 7%.”

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) says that the Government’s proposals will prevent or at best delay E10’s introduction. 

“It goes against the polluter pays principle and will ensure that cleaner fuel, which is the best for the majority of cars, will only be found in a minority of petrol stations,” said Grant Pearson, chairman of the REA’s transport fuel group. “We need an effective way of making the transition to greener petrol, whilst protecting UK motorists. We believe this can be achieved by making E10 widely available alongside a legacy fuel such as ‘super/98’.

“The UK has two of the largest manufacturers of bioethanol in Europe. These facilities support 6,000 jobs and provide UK agriculture with a market for feed wheat and a source of protein-rich animal feed co-product. 

“If the market for E10 is held back, not only will these jobs and UK farmers be put at risk, but the UK motorist will be forced into paying more for reducing carbon from cars.”

Industry criticism of the Government came as analysis from the RAC Foundation found that hundreds of thousands of cars in the UK are currently E10 incompatible.

The analysis https://www.racfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/The_impact_of_E10_final_Wengraf_July_2018.pdf suggests that if the biofuel element in petrol was raised from the current 5% to 10% then, as of June 2017, 868,000 cars would not have been able to run on it without risking damage to the engine.

By June 2020, the number of incompatible cars is expected to drop to 634,000 because of turnover in the car fleet, with all modern cars being sold now engineered to use E10.

The analysis is based on taking the DVLA database of vehicles and then looking at publicly-available sources of information to see whether the models listed are E10 compatible or not.

Where no information was available it was assumed they were incompatible.

Looking at the 2017 figures, while 243,000 of the 868,000 incompatible cars were so-called historic models (more than 40 years old at which point they become exempt from VED) many of the remaining 625,000 were much younger and likely to be in regular and frequent use, probably by those on lower incomes.

In 2017, the manufacturers with the highest number of E10 incompatible cars on the road were:

Rover – 91,624 vehicles

MG – 75,827

VW – 61,398

Nissan – 55,139

Mazda – 46,040

Ford – 37,578

Toyota – 36,646

Peugeot – 27,217

Austin – 26,368

Triumph – 24,943



Click here for fuel and fuel cards best practice and procurement insight

Login to comment


No comments have been made yet.

Related content

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee