Eco-friendly Germans balk at biofuel

AP News
Posted: Mar 08, 2011 10:06 AM
Eco-friendly Germans balk at biofuel

Eco-friendly Germans happily separate their trash into at least four separate recycling bins, but are refusing in droves to purchase gasoline with higher levels of ethanol.

Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle met with oil industry and auto representatives on Tuesday for talks on how to ease public fears that the fuel is harmful to their cars and even to the environment, concerns he says are unfounded.

The government ordered gas stations in February to make so-called E10 gasoline with 10 percent ethanol its standard fuel to meet European Union biofuel targets.

But concerned consumers have widely been opting for lower-ethanol, higher-priced super unleaded fuel amid fears E10 could be damaging to their vehicles.

The government is blaming oil companies for failing to inform consumers about the new fuel.

Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen and Bruederle told reporters that a new information campaign would ensure that gas stations had details for consumers, and that auto clubs, car garages, auto manufacturers and others were all involved.

They said that they would not back off on the introduction of the E10 fuel, however, saying it was a step toward reducing dependence on foreign oil and also cutting down on emissions.

"We're standing by the E10 strategy," Bruederle said. "It's the right way."

Germany's main automobile club has published lists of vehicles that run on the fuel, and has also told drivers they can check with manufacturers to be sure. Some 93 percent of all cars on the road in Germany are reportedly able to run on the fuel, currently sold at about half of the nation's gas stations.

Auto manufacturers have also taken it upon themselves to get that message across.

Rupert Stadler, chief executive of Audi AG, insisted it was only his company's oldest models that were not able to run on the fuel.

"Nearly all of our vehicles can run on E10, we are convinced it is the right step in the right direction if we want to reduce CO2," Stalder said on n-tv. He pointed out that the fuel is common in Sweden and the U.S.

The EU has set a target that by 2020 at least 10 percent of transport fuel should come from biofuels.