PTT trying to promote E20 gasohol to drive demand
Although a large number of car buyers purchase vehicles that are compatible with E20 gasohol, many of them aren't filling up their tanks with this type of fuel.
Since 2008, the Thai government has been offering a low excise duty rate of 25 per cent for E20 vehicles in order to support its ethanol promotion, and most major auto-makers offer models that are compatible, resulting in lower retail prices.
PTT is the major provider of E20 gasohol, and is trying to find ways to promote its use. It plans to increase the number of E20 outlets from the current 394 to 600 by the end of this year (PTT has 1,300 fuel stations countrywide).
However, demand for E20 gasohol has not grown along with the number of cars sold. It has been found that owners often fill their tanks with other types of fuels. What motorists complain about is that E20 may be cheaper to purchase, but it seems to increase fuel consumption. That is why PTT recently decided to stage a test-drive event to measure the fuel economy, as well as engine performance, of several makes running on E10 and E20 gasohol.
PTT executive vice president Saran Rangkasiri says that E20 gasohol, such as PTT's Blue Innovation E20, has a higher octane level than gasohol E10 (95 octane).
"Our E20 comprise of a base 91-octane benzene added with ethanol, which has much higher octane than benzene. The result is an octane level of 98-99 for the whole mixture," he said.
Saran admitted that E20 results in slightly higher fuel consumption than E10, but due to a lower retail price, using E20 could still result in savings of as much as 10 per cent, he added.
The Bangkok-Hua Hin drive (289.5km) also included stages at the Kaengkrachan Circuit.
Identical models were paired with each other but filled with E20 and E10. I drove in a BMW X1, which is powered by a 2.0-litre, 150-hp engine. After the halfway mark the drivers would change cars and then proceed to their destination where fuel consumption was measured and total cost calculated.
The first X1 on E20 used 27.434 litres (Bt871.85) and clocked 10.55 km/litre (Bt3.0 per km). The second X1 on E10 burned up 24.36 litres (Bt863.07), averaging 11.88km/litre (Bt2.9 per km).
As you can see the E20 car may use slightly more fuel, but there's not much difference in fuel cost.
However, other makes registered lower costs for running on E20. They are as follows: Volvo S60 (Bt3.2 vs Bt3.5), Toyota Camry Hybrid (Bt2.7 vs Bt3.0), Nissan Almera (Bt2.7 vs Bt3.1), Mercedes-Benz C-Class (Bt3.0 vs Bt3.4), Honda Civic (Bt2.8 vs Bt3.0), Mazda3 (Bt3.2 vs Bt3.7) and Mitsubishi Mirage (Bt2.5 vs Bt3.0).
But at the end of the line, the advice is to try both fuels with your vehicle and compare the difference. Your driving style is one of the biggest factors in determining the fuel economy of a vehicle.