Faced with the rise in gasoline and diesel prices, the rise of superethanol

Tank number 16 is not the most giant nor the most spectacular of the Total depot in Gennevilliers (Hauts-de-Seine), yet, on October 7, it attracts all the attention of visitors. Its particularity: it does not contain gasoline or diesel like its neighbors, but ethanol, an alcohol obtained from agricultural products (beet, wheat or corn), in other words, the base of E85 or “superethanol », Agrofuel which is becoming one of the most popular alternatives to fossil fuel.

The oil giant and Ford France have chosen the Ile-de-France depot to present their offensive in E85: one, the deployment of its specific pumps (200 in 2018, 800 today); the other, its new range of six so-called “Flexifuel” vehicles, that is to say, which can run on SP95 or 98 as well as on superethanol. It is a bet for Ford, pioneer, for twenty years, of this type of engine. The American manufacturer is betting here on a fuel which is confidential in other European countries (except Sweden), but which has made a breakthrough in France over the past three years.

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Between 2018 and 2021, French consumption of E85 will have increased by 130%, reaching 1% of fuel consumption in France (4% of gasoline). A bundle of causes explains this early craze. The price increases, in 2018, of gasoline and diesel, associated with the possibility of having, since 2018, an approved box (for 700 to 1,600 euros) on its gasoline vehicle, helped to launch the market. of this fuel which can be bought today at 70 euro cents per liter, when the SP95 exceeds 1.55 euro.

Alternative fuels less taxed by the State

Ford first launched in 2019 with a Flexifuel SUV, the Kuga, which was instantly a hit. “We went from a sales mix of 90% diesel to 85% Flexifuel in a few days, underlines Louis-Carl Vignon, President of Ford France. In six months of marketing, we have sold 6,000 Kuga E85 in France. “ This result convinced Ford of Europe to expand the Flexifuel range for France this fall, with three additional cars (Fiesta, Puma, Focus) and two utility vehicles. Ford thus covers almost all segments of the French market and is the only true generalist to offer vehicles compatible with E85. The British Jaguar Land Rover, which is not a direct competitor, also offers three models running on superethanol.

The return of high prices – diesel now exceeds 1.50 euros at the pump – is the heyday of alternative fuels less taxed by the State. Ford may dream of doing with E85 what Dacia did with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The latter, sold 0.90 euros per liter, on average, made a spectacular breakthrough, at 3% of car sales in France in 2021, or 3.4 times more than in 2020 and 18 times more than in 2019. Dual-fuel LPG (the vehicle combines petrol and gas) now represents a third of Dacia sales, which offers it on its bestsellers Sandero, Logan, new Duster and new Jogger.

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