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Consumers Need to Be Informed About Ethanol Suitability

Thursday, 22 September 2005

"It is essential that Australian vehicle owners must be accurately informed about the suitability of vehicles to operate on ethanol blended petrol," said the Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Mr Peter Sturrock.

He was commenting on the release of the Government's response to the Biofuels Taskforce report.

"The car industry had urged Government to align the fuel standard for petrol with the leading international 'Euro' standard. This standard currently provides that the maximum ethanol content in petrol should be 5 per cent," Mr Sturrock said.

"If we are to ensure that the Australian market has timely access to new engine and fuel system technologies on a cost effective basis, we need to harmonise with international standards for both vehicles and fuels," he said.

Mr Sturrock said, "it is difficult to see how some of these measures will address underlying consumer resistance to ethanol as an additive in petrol."

"There will continue to be a range of vehicle models, both new and old, for which manufacturers are not able to recommend the use of E10 petrol," he said.

"The industry's recommended approach would have removed existing caveats for all new vehicles," he added.

"We need to ensure consumers are properly informed in instances where use of E10 petrol is not recommended and to be aware that in some cases this may affect new vehicle warranties."

"Industry is concerned about the Government's proposal to undertake testing of vehicles with E5 and E10. It is not clear how this would work or whether it will provide a reliable or comprehensive indication of operability and materials compatibility issues. The responsibility for providing guidance on fuel use and warranty conditions rests with manufacturers," Mr Sturrock said.

According to Mr Sturrock, "the issue of petrol labeling is also problematic. We need to ensure that vehicle owners have access to appropriate information about the quality and suitability of fuels for use in their vehicles. While ever there is uncertainty about the ability of some vehicles to operate satisfactorily on ethanol blends, there will be a requirement for some form of label."

Mr Peter Sturrock, Chief Executive, FCAI