Switch to E10 petrol contributes to £1.7bn fuel bill rise

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Loss of efficiency combined with cleaner fuel adds to the misery for drivers hit by record price hikes

E10 became the standard unleaded petrol in September 2021, but its lower efficiency compared to the previous E5 fuel means drivers have to fill up more frequently while prices have skyrocketed.

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Combined with record petrol prices, the lower efficiency of E10 petrol has contributed to an estimated £1.7 billion increase in total cost of ownership compared to last year.

The research of GoCompare car insurance estimates that at current prices, the average driver can expect to pay around £300 more per year to fill up their car than in 2021.

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Petrol prices have risen by around 40p a liter since March 2021 (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

According to their figures, drivers who clock up 8,000 miles (the annual national average) could have expected to pay around £866 for petrol in 2021. This year, based on fuel prices as of 24 March 2022, this has risen to £1,168 – a staggering increase of £302 a year.

The vast majority of these additional costs are due to the rising price of petrol and diesel at the pumps. The average cost per liter of petrol has increased from 123p at the beginning of March 2021 to 151p on 1 March 2022 and 163p at the end of March.

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However, the switch to E10 – undertaken to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions – has also contributed to the increase. Government estimates put the fuel 2.3% less efficient than E5 fuel, which the previous standard was unleaded.

Even if prices had remained at March 2021 levels, drivers would be paying an average of £22 more simply because of the switch to E10 fuel.

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However, the steady rise in petrol prices in recent months means the impact is even greater, with the average driver paying an extra £30 just from the E10’s lower efficiency.

Ryan Fulthorpe, car expert at GoCompare said: “Unfortunately, in the midst of a fuel crisis, we also recognize the impact of the switch to E10 petrol on motorists’ pockets. Getting fewer miles per gallon means spending more to go the same distance. Along with rising fuel costs, this is a real blow to car owners.

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“As a greener fuel, switching to E10 is expected to have the same impact as taking 350,000 cars off the road and go a long way in supporting the UK bioethanol industry, which is sure to be a key future player in sustainable fuels. But instead of subsidizing and supporting this industry, the price has been passed on to the consumer.”

E10 petrol is less polluting than E5 fuel thanks to its higher bioethanol content – ​​up to 10%. This helps reduce the amount of CO2 produced during combustion, but the higher bioethanol content also means it’s less efficient, with the RAC reporting that the problem is more pronounced in the small turbocharged engines that are common today.

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