Blog: Dave LeggettGo green – get a Bentley!

Dave Leggett | 25 February 2011

Here's something to mull. Bentley engines are able to run on bioethanol blend E85. Yes, a Bentley is a flex-fuel vehicle so, like-for-like, that means that you will be doing your bit for the environment if you run on E85. Look, it all helps doesn't it? Maybe...

But hang on, it's not very easy to find E85 fuel is it? I can recall finding the E85 pump at a Morrisons supermarket in Norwich a few years ago when Saab lent me a 'BioPower' 9-3. The sole E85 pump was padlocked to stop people who don’t know any better filling their tanks and messing their engines up. I got the key, but it wasn't all that smooth an operation if I'd been in a hurry. There were just a handful of E85 pumps around the country in 2007. Now, it seems, there are even fewer.

This from our latest just-auto management briefing: 'In the UK, biofuels had been privy to a 20 pence per litre fuel duty rebate since early last decade. That rebate was removed in 2010, making bioethanol E85 more expensive to buy at the pump then petrol and diesel. As a result, Morrisons supermarket, which used to sell E85 on some of its petrol forecourts stopped selling the fuel towards the end of last year and Saab has taken all BioPower cars off its UK pricelist, making them available only on special order. The UK’s favourite car brand, Ford, stopped selling its flexi-fuel range of cars in the UK in 2009, due to a lack of consumer interest in them and the absence of any strong government support of them.”

So, you have gone green and purchased that coveted Bentley that can run on a blend of green petrol that is partly made from plants that reduce the net CO2 contribution from your 0-60 in 3.7 seconds green and mean machine. Good for you, feel good about yourself perhaps, but in reality you can't actually fill up with E85. And let's get real: is the typical Bentley buyer looking for an E85 pump at the petrol station? Are they even aware of 'flex-fuel' capability on their Bentley?

But if VW/Bentley has done this to get its fleet CO2 emissions down it raises a question. Does flex-fuel capability get your fleet CO2 emissions down even if there are actually very few places to buy E85, the vehicles in use in reality being 99.9% run on regular gasoline? 

February 2010 Management Briefing: Biofuels in Europe (Part 1) - looks at government policies

February 2010 Management Briefing: Biofuels in Europe (Part 2) - looks at manufacturer FFV product strategies



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