The UK’s Renewable Energy Association (REA) has published new analysis on the impact the introduction of E10 blended petrol would have in the UK, arguing that the switch should be made ‘as soon as possible.’
Crucially, REA’s analysis suggests that there are significantly fewer main household cars on the road that are unwarrantied to use E10 than the Department for Transport (DfT) currently estimates.
The findings echo those of the Unwarranted Caution report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Bioethanol published in July, which claimed 95% of UK cars were warrantied for E10 use.
Currently, the UK government is holding a consultation on how E10 petrol might be introduced. Its proposal includes mandating that fuel retailers continue to supply 95 RON E5 Petrol (the regular petrol grade of petrol referred to as “premium unleaded” at the pump), until at least 2021.
This, according to the consultation, is to protect the minority of motorists whose “main household vehicle” is not warrantied for E10 use from being forced to use the more expensive 98 RON fuel grade.
In other EU member states the protection E5 grade is supplied as the 98 RON fuel (the premium grade of petrol often referred to as “super unleaded at the pump”), to encourage faster uptake of E10.
Currently, the UK only mandates E5 (a 5% ethanol blend). In many countries around the world, such as Belgium, France, Finland and the US, E10 is the biggest selling petrol.
Looking at the data
REA has analysed data recently published from RAC Foundation in order to offer greater insight. The RAC Foundation data provides a detailed breakdown of the 868,000 unwarrantied cars in the UK. It comprises publicly-available E10 vehicle compatibility data matched with DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority) registration data (showing where those vehicles are registered) and MOT data (showing their mileages).
Using this data, REA concludes that in 2017 there were 175,000 unwarrantied cars in the UK with a scrappage rate above 40%, “which can therefore be assumed to be essential family vehicles”. The analysis also found that there were just over 150,000 cars with a scrappage rate of between 20% and 40%.
“If we assume around half of these cars are likely to be main household vehicles, this provides a total of 250,000 main household vehicles in the UK unwarrantied for using E10," the REA analysis states.
"This is almost half the number suggested by the DfT. This is anticipated to reduce to around 125,000 vehicles by 2020 when assuming RAC vehicle departure (i.e. scrappage rates). This represents less than 1% of the petrol vehicle parc,” (emphasis in original text).
The REA analysis also questions the DfT’s suggestion that it is the UK’s poorest motorists who own unwarrantied cars, suggesting these cars actually tend to be owned in wealthier areas of the country, potentially as secondary or additional family member vehicles.
“The introduction of E10 brings significant environmental benefits. E10 is the standard reference fuel for today’s petrol cars, and is widely available across Europe as well as the USA, Australia and many other parts of the world,” said Grant Pearson, commercial director at bioethanol manufacturer Ensus and chair of REA’s Renewable Transport Fuels Group.
“Following the problems with diesel we are again seeing a growth in petrol cars, as well as petrol hybrids. It is essential the UK switches to E10 as soon as possible, to curb their CO2 emissions. For the small number of older vehicles that are not warrantied, suitable fuel will remain available.”