In Depth

Old Volkswagen, Ford and Nissan models cannot run on new E10 fuel

Many cars produced before 2000 are incompatible with the greener petrol type that could soon appear in forecourts up and down the country

Some of Britain’s most popular cars will be unable to use a new greener fuel that the Government could introduce over the next few years to meet its emissions targets. 

The Department for Transport announced last month that it had launched a consultation into whether E10 petrol, a cleaner alternative to E5 fuel currently available in filling stations, should be introduced by 2020. 

E10 petrol is considered a cleaner fuel because it contains 10% bioethanol, a form of fuel that consists of sugar extracted from plants, The Independent reports. E5 petrol, which is the standard petrol sold in the UK, contains no more than 5% bioethanol.

E10 fuel is currently available in continental Europe and the US and most – but not all – modern cars can run on it.

A study by the RAC Foundation claims that over 600,000 cars produced before the year 2000 are “incompatible” with the cleaner fuel type.

The vehicles most affected by the potential fuel change would be older versions of the Volkswagen Golf, The Daily Telegraph says. Around 28,066 of these cars aren’t capable of running on E10 petrol. 

Other popular models affected include 15,785 Nissan Micras, 9,879 examples of the Rover 25 and 8,947 Ford Escorts, the newspaper reports. 

The Department for Transport plans to mandate the availability of E5 grade petrol after the proposed introduction of E10 in 2020, but The Sunday Times says only larger filling stations will be required to stock the older fuel. 

Nonetheless, RAC Foundation chief Steve Gooding has welcomed the Government’s proposals.

“The good news is both that the vast majority of cars on our roads are able to run on E10 and that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has recognised the need to protect the users of those older vehicles which are not E10 compatible”, he said.

But Gooding warned that drivers will need to be informed about “whether their cars can use it [E10] without being damaged.”

Meanwhile, a Department for Transport spokesperson said the Government will push towards cleaner fuels to cut carbon emissions, but “drivers of older vehicles should not be hit hard in the pocket as a result.”

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