A new analysis of warranty statements and owner’s manuals conducted by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) finds that more than 80 percent of vehicles model year 2017 are approved for the use of E15 by the manufacturer. This is an increase of 10 percent from model year 2016. Model Year 2017 is the first for Hyundai Motor Company and Kia to have expressively approved the ethanol blend. Combined the two auto companies represent slightly more than 8 percent of the U.S. light-duty auto market.
While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved E15 as a legal fuel for use in cars manufactured in 2001 or later, auto manufacturers didn’t retroactively endorse E15 in vehicles already on the road.
“This analysis demonstrates that automaker acceptance and approval of E15 continues to expand rapidly,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “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,” Dinneen added.
Other key points from the analysis include:
- The Detroit Three (Chrysler, General Motors and Ford), which collectively represent 45 percent of U.S. market share, all clearly allow E15 in their vehicles. GM started approving the use of E15 with its MY 2012 vehicles, while Ford joined the following year and Chrysler began E15 approval with its MY 2016 vehicles.
- Other automakers explicitly offering E15 approval for MY 2017 vehicles include Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen Group, and Tata Motors (maker of Land Rover and Jaguar). Altogether, auto manufacturers with approximately 81 percent of the U.S. market share now approve the use of E15 in their MY 2017 vehicles.
- With 9 percent of the U.S. market share, Nissan Motor Corporation remains the largest vehicle manufacturer that does not explicitly approve E15 in its vehicles. Despite announcing earlier this year that it is developing a vehicle powered by an ethanol fuel cell, the automaker only approves the use of E10 in its vehicles. Curiously, Nissan approves the use of gasoline containing up to 15 percent MTBE, a toxic additive that is banned in more than two dozen states.
- 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).
According to RFA estimates, around 25-30 percent of the 230 million vehicles on the road today are clearly approved by automakers to use E15; whereas, around 90 percent of cars on the road were built in 2001 or later so are legally allowed to use E15. Today nearly 400 retail stations in 28 states sell E15 including several major retail chains including Kum & Go, Murphy USA, RaceTrac and Thorntons.