Fuel: why the E85 is attracting more and more French people

INFOGRAPHICS – This superethanol, the cheapest fuel at the pump, has been acclaimed by the French since the approval of conversion units makes it easier to use. Its sales jumped by more than 50% in 2018.

It is presented by its defenders as the fuel of purchasing power. Superethanol E85, a biofuel containing up to 85% bioethanol produced from sugar cane, cereals and sugar beet,. Last year, its sales jumped 55%, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Bioethanol Collective. “2018 was an exceptional year. This shows that this product is well anchored in the landscape of the French ”, rejoiced Sylvain Demoures, general secretary of the National Union of Agricultural Alcohol Producers (SNPAA), during a press conference.

The E85 is attractive because it has an indisputable competitive advantage over its competitors at the pump. At around 68 cents per liter, it is the cheapest fuel today, far ahead of the diesel (around 1.43 euro / l), the SP 95-E10 (10% ethanol gasoline sold for 1.42 euro / l) and Unleaded 95 (1.44 euro / l). “With the E85, we gain 500 euros every 13,000 kilometers, despite overconsumption estimated at 25% at most,” explains Nicolas Kurtsoglou, fuel manager of the SNPAA. The E85 also allows you to benefit from other advantages such as total or partial tax exemption, depending on the region, from the price of the vehicle registration document.

Five approved boxes

The consumption of E85 has exploded since. These make it possible to automatically adapt the operation of the engine of gasoline cars to the ethanol content of the fuel. In other words, once installed, they allow the vehicle to run either on E85, SP95, SP98, or SP95-E10, in the same tank and in any proportion. Reassured by the approval, a large number of motorists have taken the plunge, despite the price of the box: between 900 and 1,400 euros, depending on the type of vehicle, installation and warranty included.

Especially since the offer is growing. Five categories of boxes, manufactured by Biomotors, FlexFuel and ARM Engineering, have already obtained their precious sesame. “It’s a real success. The demand is impressive. We have multiplied by 8 the number of installations between 2017 and 2018 ”, notes Sébastien Le Polles, president of FlexFuel. Biomotors claims for its part 1,500 boxes installed each month. “Contrary to what you might hear, there is no problem with engine wear. The law obliges us to put in place a 5-year warranty, parts and labor included, but we know that there is no risk ”, assures Alexis Landrieu, manager of Biomotors. Between them, these companies are targeting nearly 2,000 points of sale this year in order to meet the strong demand.

The State called in as a reinforcement

The small number of stations distributing this fuel – just over 1,000 out of a total of 11,500 in France – could constitute the last obstacle for motorists. But according to the Bioethanol Collective, this obstacle is gradually being lifted. In 2018, 133 new stations got started. “It’s getting easier and easier to find E85. And even if we don’t find any, we can’t break down because we can put any gasoline in the tank, ”emphasizes Sylvain Demoures.

According to the estimates of the Collective of Bioethanol, 70,000 motorists are now equipped with the box. A number that should increase further this year. Ethanol professionals are betting on a further 50% increase in E85 consumption in 2019 and up to 300 additional service stations. New approvals are expected, as is the arrival on the market this summer of a new FlexFuel vehicle, which allows the use of E85 without installing a box. But isn’t this craze for E85, low taxed, likely to catch the eye of Bercy? “Today, E85 represents only 2% of the gasoline market which itself represents only 20% of fuel sales against 80% for diesel. It only brings in 2 to 3 million euros. It is not the priority. And why increase the taxation of the greenest energy? It would be a major inconsistency, ”said Nicolas Rialland, from the National Confederation of beet growers. The latter rather urges the State to imitate the regions, and which, to support the purchasing power of some of their citizens, have decided to offer assistance for the installation of the box. “The state should be inspired by it”, he believes.

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Fuel: why the E85 is attracting more and more French people

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