An ethanol-blended gasoline approved for use in U.S. vehicles manufactured since model year 2001 may confuse consumers and lead to damaged car engines, the American Automobile Association said.
A survey by the biggest U.S. driving organization showed that the standard for the E15 gasoline blend, which uses 15 percent ethanol and was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in June, is unknown to 95 percent of consumers contacted by telephone. Less than a fifth of cars on the road have been approved by manufacturers to use the fuel, and engine damage may not be covered under warranties, AAA said.
“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” AAA President Robert Darbelnet said Friday.
Nine U.S. gas stations sell E15 fuel, according to Growth Energy, a Washington-based group that represents ethanol producers. Sales of E15 began in July. Seven outlets are in Kansas, one in Iowa and one in Nebraska.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the study supports his call to halt the sale of the ethanol blend.
Stations aren't required to sell the fuel. The EPA and the Federal Trade Commission require E15 sellers to post a “prominent orange and black label” to let consumers know a pump contains E15, Julia Valentine, an EPA spokeswoman, said.
“EPA shares AAA's concern over consumer awareness of the use of E15,” she said.
Before the EPA cleared E15, researchers at the Energy Department tested it thoroughly and found it safe for use, and race drivers use the blend, which boosts performance, said Michael Frohlich, a spokesman for Growth Energy.