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What you need to know about E10 petrol

By James Billings
Practice Leader, Motor Risk Solutions

In the Government’s drive to clean up Britain’s roads, E10 petrol will become the standard fuel from September 2021.

Drivers will be filling their cars up with greener fuel from September when the Department for Transport replaces the current E5 (95 octane) petrol with new E10 unleaded petrol.

E10 will be available at almost all petrol stations across England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland the introduction of E10 should happen in early 2022, subject to legislative approval.

The change applies only to petrol. There’s no changes to diesel.

Fewer emissions

The name ‘E10’ comes from the new fuel’s consistency of 90% regular unleaded and 10% renewable ethanol.

Introducing E10 is intended to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions to help tackle climate change and reach the UK’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2050. It’s estimated that this new greener fuel could cut CO2 emissions by around 750,000 tonnes per year. This is equal to taking 350,000 cars off the road, or all the cars in North Yorkshire.

As well as fewer emissions there will be a reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Ethanol is easy to source, non-toxic and renewable.

E10 petrol is already widely used around the world, including Europe, the US and Australia. It has also been the reference fuel against which new cars are tested for emissions and performance since 2016.

It’s worth noting that using E10 petrol can slightly reduce fuel economy (miles per gallon), so you may see a reduction of around 1%, but it’s unlikely to be noticeable in everyday driving. Other factors, such as your driving style, driving with under-inflated tyres or a roof rack, can have a bigger impact on fuel economy than using E10 petrol.

E10 compatibility

The switch to E10 has naturally raised some concerns from drivers, most notably around compatibility.

It’s believed that around 5% of UK vehicles (935,000 vehicles) aren’t compatible with E10. These include:

  • Classic and cherished vehicles
  • some older models, particularly those registered before 2002
  • some mopeds, particularly those with an engine size of 50cc or under

When E10 is available, fuel filling stations won’t stop selling E5 immediately. Retailers will be ensuring that petrol pumps are clearly labelled with ‘E10’ or ‘E5’ labels on the petrol dispenser and nozzle.

If your vehicle isn’t E10 compatible, you will still be able to use E5 by buying ‘super’ grade (97+ octane) petrol from most filling stations.  

If you were to misfuel and put E10 fuel into an incompatible car, it will still run, and you won’t need to drain the petrol tank as you would if you put diesel into a petrol engine. But if you keep on using E10 there’s a risk of engine damage over time.

For most drivers, there’s nothing to worry about. If your vehicle was registered after 2011, there’s no risk, and with almost all (95%) petrol-powered vehicles on the road today being compatible with E10, most drivers will see little difference.

You can check if your vehicle is compatible with E10 at the Government’s E10 Petrol website.

Risk management services for QBE customers

QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.

With almost a century of insuring commercial vehicles, 50 years’ experience in insuring bus and coach fleets, and 30 years as the UK leader in minibus insurance, QBE is fully committed to the motor sector and proactively helping customers to manage risk and drive down claims. This approach has made QBE a name to trust in commercial motor insurance.

QBE customers can access self-assessment questionnaires and a library of risk management material, along with a panel of approved partners who offer training, e-learning and other services at specially reduced rates. You can find more information in our Motor risk management service offerings brochure, and find out more about how QBE helps businesses to manage risk here.

Need to claim? Report it early

Finally, a reminder that if you have an incident and need to make an insurance claim, it’s important that you report it as soon as possible, ideally the same day. Reporting a claim early can save time and help you to receive any claim payments faster, as well as allowing us to help mitigate the cost of third-party claims.