A recent survey by AAA finds a strong likelihood of consumer confusion
and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent approval of E15 gasoline.
An overwhelming 95% of consumers surveyed have not heard of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains up to 15% ethanol. With little consumer knowledge about E15 and fewer than 5% of cars on
the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected. Only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto
AAA automotive engineering experts also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage, and false check-engine lights for Unsuspecting consumers using E15 could end up with engine problems that might not be covered by their vehicles’ warranties. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen) are on record saying their warranties will not cover
fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15. Eight additional automakers (GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo) have stated that the use of E15 does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner’s manuals and may void warranty coverage.
The only vehicles currently approved by automakers to use E15 are flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles, and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles. These approvals extend only to cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty
passenger vehicles (SUVs). The use of E15 is expressly prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers, and off-road vehicles.
AAA urges fuel producers and regulators to do a better job of educating consumers about potential dangers before selling E15 gasoline. This outreach should include a consumer education campaign and more effective pump labels, among other potential safeguards to protect consumers and their vehicles. AAA also recommends additional testing to conclusively determine the impact of E15 use on
vehicle engines and fuel system components.
At least 10 gas stations currently sell E15 and that number is expected to grow, which means now is the time to suspend sales before more retailers begin offering the fuel. The EPA in June officially approved the sale of E15 after receiving a waiver request from producers interested in expanding the use of corn-based ethanol
Despite objections by auto manufacturers, the EPA approved the use of E15 gasoline in flex-fuel vehicles and 2001 model year and newer cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles and SUVs.
AAA supports the development and use of alternative fuels. More than 95% of the gasoline sold in the United States containsup to 10% ethanol. Lower ethanol blends should remain available to consumers while the challenges with E15 are addressed. (CSP Daily News: www.cspnet.com)