Petrol is about to change
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
This September, as part of the UK Government's Road to Zero strategy, the standard grade of unleaded petrol is set to change from E5 to E10. The change in the specification is to help reduce the carbon impact of liquid fuels.
What is E10 fuel?
Unleaded fuel at the forecourt is a blend of mineral fuel produced from crude oil and a renewable element, ethanol. Unleaded petrol is graded according to the maximum percentage of ethanol allowed in the fuel. The current grade is known as E5, with the maximum amount of ethanol being 5%. From September 2021, the ethanol limit will increase to 10%, and E10 will become the new standard grade.
The ethanol in fuel is made from crops and given the term bioethanol. A proportion of the bioethanol comes from waste materials; this adds to the product's green credentials. The government has also introduced a crop cap that limits the percentage of bioethanol produced from virgin crops, reducing the environmental impact of the fuel.
Many European countries have been running on E10 for some years. After initial confusion for road users, leading to increased demand for premium fuels, it is now the standard grade across much of Europe.
Is my car compatible with E10 fuel?
Since 2011 all petrol cars must be E10 compatible. Inevitably some older cars may not be compatible. According to the Department for Transport (DfT), this number may be as high as 700,000 cars. Ethanol can damage seals and hoses within these cars, leading to damaged fuel pumps, injectors, and carburetors.
If your vehicle is older than 2011, there is still a chance that it can run on E10. Many cars built before this date are still compatible with the grade.
If you are unsure about your vehicle, the government has launched a website that allows users to check the compatibility of their vehicles. Alternatively, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association published a list of compatible cars from their members, which you can find here.
If either of the above doesn't answer your questions, the government advice is to check your handbook or contact your manufacturer.
What to do if my vehicle isn't compatible with E10?
Fuel producers will not increase the ethanol from current levels in high Octane premium petrol. If your car isn't compatible with E10, you will still be able to purchase fuel, but this is likely to be the more expensive premium grade.
The benefit of the move to E10
According to the DfT, the switch from E5 to E10 is the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road as it will cut tailpipe emissions by around 2%. The move is an essential step towards reducing our carbon emissions and one that 98% of cars currently on the road can take.