An annual analysis of vehicle owner's manuals and warranty statements by the Renewable Fuels Association reveals that while nearly all new 2021 automobiles are explicitly approved by the manufacturer to use E15 gasoline, far fewer models are being offered as flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) capable of operating on fuel blends containing up to 85% ethanol.
Only two automakers-Ford and General Motors-are offering FFVs in model year 2021. Just 11 models will be available as FFVs in 2021, with five of those models available only to fleet purchasers. That's down from more than 80 different models from eight manufacturers being available to consumers as recently as model year 2015. RFA continues to strongly advocate for the production of more FFVs and fairness in how alternative fuel vehicles are incentivized under fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations.
'RFA's review of model year 2021 vehicles revealed the continuation of a disturbing trend toward fewer FFV offerings,' said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. 'Consumer demand for E85 and other flex fuels is at an all-time high, meaning drivers are looking for more-not fewer-FFV options on dealership lots across the nation. Unfortunately, however, EPA's latest vehicle emissions regulations essentially eliminate the automaker incentive to build FFVs, while at the same time heaping incentives on automakers who build electric vehicles. But despite this unlevel regulatory playing field, flex fuel availability and demand continue to grow as more drivers recognize the environmental and economic benefits of cleaner, greener renewable fuels.'
While automakers continue to step away from FFVs, the good news for drivers is that manufacturers responsible for nearly 95 percent of U.S. light-duty vehicle sales unequivocally approve the use of E15 in their model year 2021 automobiles. For the 10th consecutive year, all new General Motors vehicles are clearly approved to use E15, while Ford has explicitly endorsed E15 in nine straight model years. Among major automakers, only Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Volvo-representing less than 6 percent of U.S. sales collectively-do not include E15 as an approved fuel in their owner's manuals or other documentation.
'While EPA has legally approved the use of E15 in all light-duty vehicles since model year 2001, we're pleased to see that almost all major automakers are also explicitly approving the use of this lower-cost fuel blend in their vehicles,' said Cooper. 'E15 has been in the marketplace for almost eight years now and has been the fuel of choice for nearly 20 billion miles traveled by American drivers. As more and more stations across the country offer E15, we expect the fuel will soon replace E10 as the new 'regular.''
Cooper noted that BMW and Mini vehicles go a step further, as the manufacturer continues to approve the use of E25 blends in all models.
At present, there are more than 5,000 gas stations selling E85 and other flex fuels, and more than 2,000 selling E15. Click here for locations and a price tracker, and click here for more information on ethanol blends.