According to a new comprehensive engineering analysis performed by Ricardo, Inc., an internationally recognized engineering firm, moving from 10% (E10) ethanol in gasoline to 15% (E15) will mean little, if any, change on the performance of cars and light trucks manufactured between 1994 and 2000.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently considering a fuel waiver request to allow ethanol to be blended up to 15%. The Agency has previously stated it expected to approve E15 for 2001 and newer vehicles only.

This study, which analyzed the vehicles manufactured by six companies and which represent 25% (62.8 million vehicles) of light duty vehicles on the road today, concluded “that the adoption and use of E15 in the motor vehicle fleet from the studied model years should not adversely affect these vehicles or cause them to perform in a sub-optimal manner when compared with their performance using the E10 blend that is currently available.”

“This analysis provides conclusive evidence for the EPA that there is no reason to limit the availability of E15 to newer vehicles only,” says Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president. “This analysis together with affirmative results in reports from the Department of Energy and other academic and private testing institutions show that there are no significant issues with the use of E15 in virtually all vehicles on the road today.”

The Ricardo, Inc., report, prepared for RFA and utilizing acceptable EPA statistical sampling methodology, analyzed a wide variety of findings:
· Changes in EPA emissions regulations during this timeframe increased the tolerance of fuel and vapor handling systems to ethanol blended fuels.
· Vehicles of this vintage were certified by the manufacturers with a high compliance margin.
· Careful review of the effects of exposure from E15 on vehicle driveability, catalytic converter durability and on-board diagnostic systems of these model years determined no significant effect from an increase of 5% ethanol.

In analyzing the various vehicles, the Ricardo, Inc., analysis found minimal effects on engine components and materials, emission systems (including catalytic converters) and overall performance of raising the ethanol percentage from 10 to 15%. To read the full report, click here.