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Will E15 gasoline with ethanol work in a Volvo?

The last two weeks I’ve tested a new fuel that’s available at the Dutch market: BlueOne95. BlueOne95 is a E15 fuel which contains 15% liquid ethanol, which is different than the regular ethanol as used in E10 gasoline. The 15% ethanol in E15 biofuel blend is a so-called “liquid ethanol” (or “wet ethanol”) because it hasn’t been dried like the ethanol that is being used in E10 (E10 contains 10% dried ethanol and contains less water than E15).

Volvo V70 2001 grey gray metallic

E15 should have the following advantages:

  • it should be more environmentally friendly than E10 and regular gasoline (which has about 5% biofuel) and has lower CO2-emissions.
  • Better engine performance. The liquid ethanol of E15 should also deliver more energy than E10 and regular Euro95 (European standard) or RON91 fuel.
  • It’s cheaper. Not only because the price is lower (taxes and excise duties for biofuel are a bit lower than the taxes and duty of regular fuel) but the fuel consumption of the car running on E15 should be better than E10 or regular gasoline. BlueOne95 claims the E15 fuel should be 3% more economical than regular gasoline.

BlueOne95 and all other E15 suppliers say all gasoline cars from 2001 and above can use E15 fuel. Since my Volvo V70 is made in 2001 it’s time to test E15 in a Volvo V70!

To test all the claims of the E15 fuel I made a 250km testdrive on regular gasoline (Euro95), empty the fuel tank and made the same testdrive the day after with E15 fuel. On Euro95 gasoline my 2001 Volvo V70 has a fuel consumption of 1 litre per 10,9 kilometres (9,17L/100km), which matches the fuel consumption that I monitored from the day I bought the car: it has always been around 9,17L/100km and in the summer it’s slightly better.

The performance of E15 fuel in a Volvo V70

After the tank of my Volvo V70 was almost empty it was time to fill the fuel tank with BlueOne95 (for the Dutch readers: it can be found at De Haan and Argos). About 76 litre E15 was added in the tank, which means there was about 4 litre Euro95 left. When I started the testdrive I’ve got the feeling the performance of the car was a lot worse than it was on regular fuel: the car had a loss of power and to get to a certain speed the car had to work a bit harder. I wasn’t impressed at all, and if my V70 has to work a bit harder the car couldn’t be more economical at all!

Unfortunately the short test proves my premonition was right: with a fuel consumption of  1 litre per 9,77 kilometres the car isn’t economical at all! Normally the Volvo V70 has a fuel consumption of 9,17L/100km and now it’s about 10,24L/100km! A pretty bad result, and thanks to that it isn’t cheaper at all: E15 is 2 cent per litre cheaper than Euro95 (regular) gasoline, but the car consumes more fuel. So at the end you’ll end up paying more money for less mileage. Pretty bad!

I should test the E15 fuel in more cars and for a longer term, but this test (with the same route and weather conditions as the test on Euro95 the day before) says enough (for me).

Volvo itself doesn’t cover any warranty if you use E15 fuel in your Volvo, unless you’ve got a bio-ethanol Volvo (which runs on E85). The extra water and alcohol in E10 and E15 can damage seals, rings and gaskets on a longer term.

My advice: don’t use E10 or E15 in your Volvo, but regular gasoline. Just like the ADAC, AAA and other automobile associations and road services recommends.




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