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Most Automakers on Board with E15

Market penetration of E15 and higher-level ethanol blends is crucial to the government's near- and long-term commitment to biofuels.

In the new year the ethanol industry finds itself in the challenging position of urging the EPA not to lower the renewable volume obligations of the renewable fuels standard while simultaneously pushing forward aggressively with E15 implementation.

Obviously, the two issues are critically intertwined, according to Tom Bryan of The EPA cited the challenge of the E10 blend wall as one reason for its proposal to tap breaks on the RFS next year.

Back in April, the Renewable Fuels Association sent a letter to EPA, urging the agency to reconsider several assumptions related to its decision to deconstruct CAFE credits for flex-fuel vehicles. The ethanol trade group said automaker reluctance to move forward with E15-capable engines was, at the time, compounding the concurrent challenges of building E15 refueling infrastructure. The goal was to ensure that more American cars, SUVs and light trucks have the backing of OEMs--and not just EPA--to use the fuel.

Eight months later, the outlook has improved somewhat. The number of U.S. retailers offering E15 has grown stepwise with the number of 2014 vehicles rolling into showrooms E15 ready.

Ford has approved all of its new models for E15, releasing an ethanol content statement for its light-trucks, SUVs and cars that expressly says the vehicles may be fueled with 15 percent ethanol.

General Motors had already done the same for all of its newer vehicles, going back to 2012 model year Buicks, Cadillacs, Chevys and GMCs. Most of Honda's cars and SUVs are E15 approved. Accords, CR-Vs, Pilots, Odysseys and other top sellers are all covered for 15 percent ethanol.

Other foreign automakers have reportedly moved on official E15 approvals, too. Jaguar, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz have all OK'd their 2014 vehicles for 15 percent ethanol; Toyota has brought two-thirds of its fleet up to speed.

Laggards in the E15 authorization movement are Volvo, Nissan, Mazda and Chrysler. According to an auto industry tracking document obtained by EPM, Those manufacturers have yet to officially approve their new vehicles for E15. The ethanol content statement consumers receive with 2014 Chryslers, Dodges and Jeeps still says "DO NOT use gasoline containing methanol or gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol."

Progress is being made, but Chrysler's deferred sanctioning of E15, alone, is an indicator of how much still needs to be done to put the blend wall behind us.

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October 15, 2019, 10:16 pm PDT

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