E10 fuel – a threat to classics? The Government has revealed plans mandating that unleaded fuel should contain 10 per cent ethanol in a bid to make fossil fuels more sustainable, but critics say the proposals could have serious ramifications for classic car owners. The introduction of ‘E10’ petrol – a blend of 90% unleaded petrol and 10% ethanol – is claimed to be essential to help the UK meet its climate change commitments, citing that a recent change to E5 fuel (5% ethanol) hasn’t made much difference – though anyone who has left an older car standing for more than a few weeks with low fuel in the tank may tell you otherwise.
Even the government’s own Department for Transport is aware that E10 fuel can affect older cars, and has launched an investigation as part of its consultation into issues including blocked filters, damaged fuel pumps and degraded fuel hoses and carburettor components.
Under the consultation, the DfT will explore the idea of a derogation for older vehicles that will allow a supply of current grade E5 fuel to continue, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimating that there are currently 1.4 million vehicles on the UK’s roads that couldn’t use the fuel.
The Government’s preferred option is to introduce a ‘protection grade’ requiring larger forecourts to continue to stock standard premium 95 petrol in an E5 grade if they opt to stock E10.
The DfT explains: “The Government is keen to harness the potential benefits of introducing E10, while also ensuring that motorists who still need to purchase standard E5 petrol can do so without having to pay for higher priced ‘Super’ grades.”
But a second option would allow fuel retailers to decide which petrol grade is maintained as E5. This could potentially mean suppliers only offering super grade E5, which can be 10p per litre more expensive that the standard E5.