E15 can now be sold all twelve months of the year. But adding the fuel to the product mix is unlikely to come as a straightforward decision for gas station owners.
E15 has its benefits. It’s a cleaner burning fuel than unleaded gasoline and is better for the environment. It has a higher octane rating which means it enhances engine performance. Finally, it costs about 10 cents per gallon less than E10, making it an economical fuel of choice.
Until recently, however, E15 was only allowed to be sold for nine months of the year, which somewhat undermined its appeal and gas stations were not always eager to offer it as a primary product.
Why rely on a product for profits when you can’t offer it to your customers year around?
Now, though, with the restrictions lifted off, fuel retailers are showing huge interest to adding E15 to their stock. But is this decision as simple as it sounds? Well, not really.
E15 Challenges for Gas Station Owners
Not every vehicle can handle E15, especially those automobiles manufactured prior to 2001. It has been shown that the higher ethanol content in E15 can significantly degrade the life and performance of older engines. The fuel can cause corrosion and dissolve rust in the fuel tank which could then find its way into the fuel system and damage the cars that haven’t been designed to burn it.
Unfortunately, most consumers aren’t aware of these potential hazards of E15. And this responsibility falls on the shoulders of gas station owners.
Then there are equipment considerations to weigh in. Like cars, gas station equipment must also be compatible for use with E15 to ensure safer operations. Currently, not every gas station in the US is equipped with the right type of fuel handling system to store and dispense E15. This means gas station owners would need to upgrade their equipment before they can start selling the fuel.
Lastly, there are challenges related to sourcing the fuel stock that must also be considered. Very few terminals across the country supply E15. In fact, in the western U.S, such terminals are almost non-existent. The only option gas station owners could then be left with is to blend the fuel onsite. This requires significant cost planning as the solution might not make financial sense for every gas station owner.
E15 may well be finally ready for primetime in the U.S. It’s also quite possible that your competitors could be planning to add the fuel product to their product mix. However, making a move to it may not necessarily be a wise decision in your case. You must carefully weigh your options and then decide whatever is best for your gas station business.
For further reading: Keep your gas station free of deceptive fuel price signs