The use of ethanol in gasoline has been a hot topic of debate in “Green ” circles for years and it once again will be at the forefront of the mainstream media. The enthusiast ‘s arch nemesis, the agency that is reportedly in charge of protecting the environment and the notorious effects of global warming, the EPA, today approved E15 for use in 2007 and newer passenger vehicles.
While we are all for being Green (we love Clean Diesel and Efficient Dynamics), and saving natural resources we believe there is something inherently wrong with using a food-stock to produce fuel. The main bio source for creating ethanol in the US is currently corn- the same corn that feeds the livestock and we eat at our tables. We are not going to explain how the supply used to make ethanol will impact the prices of food or how the net energy to produce the fuel is less than what it yields (you can research that elsewhere and form your own opinions).
What concerns us is how this will impact our cars, our warranties and of course for all those with direct injection; the high pressure fuel pump.
It really is quite simple, an unnamed source at BMWNA has told us that the maximum allowed for use in a BMW is 10% (E10 the current blend), and that is that. After internal testing, BMW is not condoning the use of E15 at this time on any new or old BMW.
This is not surprising to us as many auto manufacturers and even gas station owners were against the move to E15. There is more than saving the planet behind this decision, as there usually is in Washington. While this move is said to have the new fuel at a station near you by late spring we doubt it will be less than a year from now. The current UL listed fuel pumps at over 95% of fueling stations are only approved to safely handle up to 15% ethanol leaving no room for error in the mixing process, which could be hazardous. There are currently two pumps on the market that have been approved for a 25% blend and cost in excess of $20,000 each, so station owners are not going to be in a rush to upgrade and when they are there may not be enough supply to meet the demand.
The EPA is said to rule on older cars by December at which time we will have more info on the availability of the fuel, how it will be dispensed and what happens if you accidently put the wrong blend in your BMW.