According to a new survey looking at consumers’ decisions at the pump, the environment does not seem to play a primary role in the choices they make. The big factor is price at the pump. According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and reported in a Reuters article, E15 is about 5 cents per gallon less expensive, or about 2 percent.
But do consumers care if ethanol is in their fuel? If you ask Big Oil, then the answer should be yes and have been claiming that ethanol could impair performance and vehicle durability. Yet according to the poll, around four out of 10 Americans who drive to work said they did not know if ethanol was good for performance, while the remainder appeared split. The same portion did not know if ethanol affected gas mileage.
The article says that the debate does not resonate with consumers, in part, because the ethanol industry has focused its efforts on lobbying lawmakers in Washington according to Laura Sheehan, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies and a public relations specialist in the energy sector. She said that it would take a massive personal, consumer education campaign to change consumer perceptions.
Robert White, RFA vice president of industry relations said that there is difficulty in reaching consumers if ethanol is not widely available. E15 is only available in a few hundred stations today and growing and White said as E15 becomes more widely available the industry will do more to educate consumers.