According to an analysis of vehicle owners manuals for model year 2014 and 2015 cars, conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), two-thirds of new car owners’ manuals approve the use of E15 (15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline). E15 is the most studied fuel in the world, and has been extensively tested for safety and fuel efficiency by the EPA and the Department of Energy. The EPA has certified that it is safe to use in make and model cars newer than 2001, representing over 80 percent of all vehicles on the road today. These fuels have also been found to be safe for use with existing infrastructure, including gas station pumping equipment. Despite these facts, E15 is only available in a handful of retail gasoline stations in the United States. That may change – at least in Chicago, with the Chicago City Council set to consider the use of E15 again.
According to RFA, among major auto manufacturers, Ford, GM, Honda and Toyota now authorize E15 in all 2015 vehicle models. Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, and Volkswagen also approve the use of E15 in all 2015 model vehicles. This is contrast to 2014, when many manufacturers, with the exception of GM and Ford, did not approve the use of E15, or approved it in only a handful of their 2014 models. The only major U.S. auto maker that still does not approve the use of E15 is Chrysler Motors (which includes Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep). Other holdouts in approving E15 use in any vehicle model include BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Volvo.
The Chicago Clean Air Choice ordinance would require large filling stations in Chicago to offer E15 to consumers. It was considered by the City Council in early November. Transitioning to E15 would mean adding an additional roughly 7 billion gallons per year to the 13.5 billion gallons of ethanol that are expected to be blended into the gasoline supply in 2014, easily breaking through the E10 ‘blend wall’. Not only would this decrease U.S. gasoline consumption by approximately 4.8 billion gallons of gasoline per year on an energy equivalent basis (or 254 million barrels of crude oil per year), research has shown that a 5 percent increase in ethanol usage also reduces the total volume of toxic air pollutants and amount of greenhouse gases emitted.
As EESI has pointed out before – mid-level blends, including E15 and E30, continue to be ignored as a potential Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) compliance strategy. Not only would mid-level blends help surpass the often quoted E10 ‘blend wall’, mid-level blends have multiple benefits, including lowering the overall toxic amount of tailpipe emissions. Just imagine – ethanol-blended fuel could even be co-deployed with both hybrid and plug-in electric vehicle technology, which could provide a fuel efficiency rating of up to 500 miles per gallon of conventional gasoline! But in order to run, you must walk first. Therefore, it should be a no-brainer to remove barriers for further E15 use. Mid-level ethanol blends represent the best immediate solution to reducing dependence on petroleum, as well as providing an improvement for public health.
For more information see:
RFA: Automakers approve E15 for use in two-thirds of new vehicles, Ethanol Producer Magazine
Chicago to Vote on E15, Domestic Fuel