Yahoo! News: Ethanol doesn’t spark interest among consumers

June 11, 2013

Eric Evarts, June 10, 2013- Few consumers are familiar with E15 fuel. In fact, two thirds can't accurately describe the fuel and even fewer know whether it'd be a good deal, according to a new survey by the National Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS).

E15 is gasoline that consists of 15 percent ethanol, a corn by-product. Blending ethanol into gasoline reduces dependence on foreign oil, but it increases fuel consumption and not all cars are compatible with it.

To understand public perceptions and purchase intents, the industry trade group for gas station retailers conducted an online survey last month of almost 1,200 Americans who regularly fill up with gasoline. The NACS asked consumers about their fuel preferences and how likely they would be to consider buying a car that uses an alternative fuel, such as diesel or gasoline blended with ethanol. Not many were enthused about these alternatives.

Even when it came to an established fuel like diesel, among the 64 percent of respondents who were considering a new car, more than half said they consider the fuel too expensive. Thirty-one percent said they would consider a diesel-powered model. But of those would consider it, 59 percent gave better fuel economy as the reason. For those who weren't interested in diesel, the top reason was that diesel was more expensive.

When it came to ethanol blends, the picture got murkier.

Among those who said they were likely to buy E15 if it were the same price as E10, 46 percent cited better fuel economy as the motivation. However, E15 has worse fuel economy than E10 or lower gasoline blends.