Vehicle compatibility with new fuel standards

From 1 January 2011, the requirements of the Fuel Quality Directive (Directive 2009/30/EC) will apply through its transposition into the laws of the 27 member states of the EU (and certain other countries that apply EU law). Amongst other things, vehicle drivers will face new fuels at the pump. In particular, the main grade of unleaded petrol at the pump will change to one that contains up to 10% ethanol (or a mixture of limited ‘oxygenates’ up to an equivalent 10% limit) and diesel will change to one that contains up to 7% FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester).

Today’s unleaded petrol, commonly known as “E5”, may contain up to 5% of ethanol (or a mixture of limited ‘oxygenates’ up to an equivalent 5% limit) will remain available at the pump and the Fuel Quality Directive requires that member states shall require that fuel suppliers ensure the continued supply of E5 unleaded petrol until 2013 and may require that it remains available for longer, if it is necessary for the fleet of vehicles in their territory.

The quality specifications of these new fuels are governed by the Fuel Quality Directive and the appropriate international standard - both of which should be referenced in the relevant law of the member state in which the fuel is sold.

The new unleaded petrol grade is commonly known as “E10” and the new diesel grade is commonly known as “B7”. Although the sale of E10 petrol and B7 diesel is mandatory from 1st January 2011 across the 27 member states of the EU, both fuels are already available in some member states, e.g. France, but this has been according to specific national orders.
 
Revisions to the relevant international standards, i.e. EN228 in the case of unleaded petrol and EN590 in the case of diesel, are under way and those revisions will include recommendations for how the fuel pump should be marked so that the consumer is fully informed about the fuel he or she is putting into a vehicle. Unfortunately, it is up to the individual member state to choose to adopt those recommendations for pump marking, or use another method.

The new “B7” diesel can be used in all diesel vehicles but there are concerns regarding the use of E10 unleaded petrol in all petrol vehicles on the road. In general, older petrol vehicles may face some issues of material compatibility when using E10 unleaded petrol for a sustained period of time so such vehicles should use the “E5” unleaded petrol grade. Note that it is up to the oil companies to choose how they will continue to market the E5 unleaded petrol grade.

To assist consumers recognise which unleaded petrol they should put in their car, ACEA has complied this list that shows which petrol vehicles can safely use E10 unleaded petrol and which petrol vehicles should continue to use E5 unleaded petrol. The list also contains information for Saab and also cars produced by Japanese manufacturers who are not members of ACEA. ACEA is grateful to JAMA for their cooperation in compiling this list.

The list is available from the national automobile associations; and it is expected that governments will start to make consumer information widely available to describe these changes to the fuels available at the filling pumps.

If you require further technical or vehicle information, please contact your national automobile association. For press inquiries please contact Cara McLaughlin, Director Communications, ACEA +32 485 88 66 47 or cm@acea.be.

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