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E10 fuel: is the switch going to affect you?

With E10 unleaded petrol replacing E5 as the standard petrol grade from 1 September 2021, find out if your car’s compatible with E10 and how does this fuel could affect your car.

The Department for Transport in the UK has announced that E10 unleaded petrol will replace the current E5 as the standard petrol grade from September 2021.
This doesn’t mean that filling stations will stop selling E5 completely, as approximately five percent of cars in the UK aren’t compatible with E10 according to gov.uk.

What is E10 fuel?

E10 is a biofuel used in transportation that contains 10% renewable ethanol instead of the previous standard petrol grade – E5 or super grade petrol – which contains up to five percent ethanol. Simply put, regular petrol containing 10% of bioethanol is called E10 or ‘premium’ petrol.
Ethanol is renewable, colourless alcohol which is made from agricultural sources such as sugar beets. The higher percentage of ethanol in E10 will help in reducing the amount of CO2 a vehicle produces as ethanol absorbs CO2 as it’s produced. Another benefit of ethanol-blended fuel is that ethanol can be sourced easily from processed corn which also helps businesses in the farming and manufacturing sector. E10 is widely used in various countries within Europe, such as Finland, France, Germany and Belgium, and outside Europe, including Australia. Related: Learn more about different fuel types, and which one is right for you

Your car’s compatibility with E10 fuel

While all cars manufactured after 2011 will be able to use E10 fuel, some cars manufactured before 2011 may not be compatible with E10, including some older cars, classic cars and cars using a carburettor.
You can easily check whether your car’s compatible with E10 or not through an E10 compatibility checker on gov.uk. You can also check if your vehicle is compatible with E10 petrol by checking the user manual or asking the manufacturer. Filling stations will clearly label the petrol as E5 or E10 on both the petrol dispenser and nozzle, so make sure you select the right fuel for your car according to compatibility.

Benefits of using E10 petrol

• Lower level of CO2 emissions produced
• Reduced reliance on fossil fuels • It’ll contribute towards the UK meeting its emissions target • Ethanol is non-toxic and renewable • Ethanol is easy to source • Ethanol production results in valuable by-products such as high protein animal feed and stored CO2 which can be used by various industries and can help reduce the need to import these products

E10 fuel price and quality

Once E10 is introduced as the standard petrol grade in the UK, it’s expected to be the cheaper petrol out of E10 and E5. E10’s cheaper price, however, doesn’t mean that it’s cheaper quality – it will simply see lower prices as it’ll be widely available across the country as the standard petrol.
The Department for Transport’s impact assessment estimated the reduction in petrol costs to be by 0.2 pence per litre. However, a shift from E5 to E10 may increase the overall fuelling costs for petrol cars by 1.6% as the energy content of E10 fuel is less than that of E5 which can slightly reduce your car’s fuel economy. The reduced fuel economy would increase the need to refuel and thus, motorists would end up buying more litres of fuel - this would slightly increase the total amount spent on refuelling overtime. Related: Fuel-efficient driving tips to reduce car emissions

Does E10 fuel damage your engine?

If your car’s incompatible with E10 petrol and you keep using it for a long time, it may cause some damage to the engine.
If your car’s incompatible and you use E10 fuel instead of E5 you won’t require any immediate action like draining out the fuel (which would be the case if you used diesel instead of petrol or vice versa). Simply check compatibility to make sure that E10 fuel is okay for your car and use the right fuel next time.

E10 fuel for diesel cars

E10 will become the standard grade for petrol cars only – it’s not suitable for diesel cars.
At Budget 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that from the 1st April 2022, most sectors will not be allowed to use ‘red diesel’ anymore, except for agriculture, horticulture, fish farming, forestry, rail and non-commercial heating system users. 'Red Diesel' is a gas oil containing a red marker dye, used for off-road purposes such as powering non-road machines, bulldozers, stationary engines, heating plant & marine vessels. It makes up for 15% of total diesel used in the UK and produces nearly 14 million tonnes of CO2 per annum. Red diesel is popular because of its rebated fuel duty rate of 11.14 pence per litre (ppl), making it much more affordable than 'white diesel', which has a fuel duty rate of 57.95 ppl. Related: What does the 2030 diesel and petrol ban mean?
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