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Increasing Number of Automakers Approve E15

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A growing number of automakers are manufacturing vehicles with warranties to allow the use of E15, according to a new analysis from the Renewable Fuels Association.

The expansion of ethanol markets beyond E10 is considered vital for the expansion of advanced biofuels including cellulosic ethanol.

More than 80% of new 2017 model year vehicles are explicitly approved by manufacturers to use E15, according to an analysis of warranty statements and owner's manuals conducted by the RFA. Last year about 70% of 2016 vehicles were approved by automakers for the use of E15.

Sabrina Fang, spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute, said about 85% of vehicles in the existing overall fleet are not compatible with E15. "I think it’s worth noting since most people on the road will not be driving a 2017 model car next year," she said.

"API is clearly stuck in the past and clinging for dear life onto myths and misinformation that no one is falling for anymore," RFA Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper said in a statement to DTN.

"Even AAA has abandoned its anti-E15 messaging because they recognize the tide has turned. API's suggestion that 85% of vehicles on the road are incompatible with E15 is absolutely preposterous and unsupported by the facts. API should share the details of how they arrived at that deceptive figure, but they won't because it was clearly pulled out of thin air."

Hyundai Motor Company approved the use of E15 in its Hyundai and Kia vehicles, making it the company's first move into the higher ethanol blend.

Hyundai and Kia account for more than 8% of the light-duty automobile market in the United States. In 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the use of E15 in vehicles built in 2001 or later. Auto manufacturers did not retroactively endorse the use of E15 in legacy vehicles that were already on the road, according to the RFA.

In addition, RFA found Chrysler, General Motors and Ford that make up about 45% of the U.S. market, all allow E15 in their vehicles. GM started approving the use of E15 in 2012 vehicles, Ford did so in 2013, and Chrysler began E15 approval with 2016 models.

Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen Group, and Tata Motors (maker of Land Rover and Jaguar) all approved E15 for 2017 vehicles. Altogether, auto manufacturers with about 81% of the U.S. market share now approve the use of E15 in 2017 vehicles.

With 9% of the U.S. market share, Nissan Motor Corporation remains the largest vehicle manufacturer that does not explicitly approve E15 in its vehicles. Although Nissan announced earlier in 2016 it is developing a vehicle powered by an ethanol fuel cell, the automaker only approves the use of E10 in its vehicles.

The RFA also found:

"-Mazda, Subaru and the Daimler Group (maker of Mercedes-Benz) also continue to exclude E15 from fuel approvals and warranty statements. Together, these three manufacturers own about 7.5 percent of the U.S. market share.

"-Of note, BMW Group’s Mini vehicles again allow the use of 25 percent ethanol blends. The manufacturer states, “Fuels with a maximum ethanol content of 25 percent, i.e., E10 or E25, may be used for refueling.”

"-While neither automaker approves the use of E15, both Mercedes-Benz and Nissan produce some flex fuel vehicle models that are capable of operating on up to 85 percent ethanol blends (E85)."

RFA estimates that 25% to 30% of the 230 million vehicles on the road are approved by the automaker to use E15. Meanwhile, roughly 90% of vehicles on the road were built in 2001 or later, meaning they are legally approved by EPA to use E15.

"This analysis demonstrates that automaker acceptance and approval of E15 continues to expand rapidly," RFA President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen said in a statement.

"More than four out of every five new vehicles carries the manufacturer's explicit endorsement of E15, putting to rest the myth propagated by the American Petroleum Institute that automakers don't allow or warranty the use of this lower-cost, higher-octane fuel blend.

"We applaud Hyundai for joining the ‘E15 Club’ with its model year 2017 vehicles, and we're thrilled to see Mini going above and beyond to offer E25-compatible vehicles. At the same time, we encourage Nissan, Mazda, Subaru and Daimler to get with the times and offer their customers greater freedom and flexibility when it comes to making a fuel choice at the pump."

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow me on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

(TN)

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