via Car assemblers condemn E15 fuel | The Herald June 30, 2014 by Tendai Mugabe
Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries says its vehicles are not compatible with the E15 fuel blend and does not warranty cars using such fuel should they develop engine or emission system challenges. Motorists have also expressed concern with the use of the mandatory E15 fuel that was recently announced by the Government. E15 is a mix of 85 percent petrol and 15 percent ethanol.
Government argued that such blending levels were safe and would reduce the country’s fuel import bill.
WMMI managing director Engineer Dawson Mareya last week said E15 might result in engine malfunctioning in Mazda models.
“The use of such fuel depends on the engine, whether it is designed for such fuel.
“We cannot give a warranty of guarantee for anything beyond E10 because it can cause engine malfunction.”
Eng Mareya said decisions to introduce E15 required extensive consultations with stakeholders in the motor industry.
As car assemblers, he said, they wanted time to communicate with kits manufacturers on change of Government policy.
“We do not design cars. We just put a car together so such decisions require proper planning,” he said.
Nissan Zimbabwe last year expressed discomfort over the use of blended fuel beyond E10 levels.
In a letter to Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority chief executive Engineer Gloria Magombo, Nissan Zimbabwe said their vehicles were designed to take a maximum 10 percent ethanol-blended gasolene.
It said if that percentage was to be exceeded, Nissan products would have fuel injection components changed and various rubber components installed into the fuel systems to cater for a higher ethanol blend.
Most Zimbabweans use vehicles imported from mainly Britain and Asian countries and no independent enquiries have been done to assess the compatibility of such pre-owned vehicles to these fuel blends.
A car dealer who spoke to The Herald on condition of anonymity last Friday said the decision to introduce E15 in Zimbabwe was ill advised.
He said most of the vehicles in the country were not compatible with such higher blends.
“E15 is compatible with modern cars especially those that were manufactured from 2004,” said the source.
“If we are to use E15 on all cars, it means there should be some modifications on engines because ethanol is corrosive.”
A Harare motorist, Mr Manuel Gadzikwa, said E15 and any other blend above E10 level should be optional.
“It is unfair for Government to foist E15 on us. In as much as Government can argue that E15 is a cost cutting measure that may also result in reduction of fuel prices, it has to be optional. We should be allowed to choose the fuel that we want to use.”
However, Eng Magombo of Zera said there was nothing wrong with E15.
She said blended fuel was not a new phenomenon in Zimbabwe as it was used during the Smith regime.
Eng Magombo said the increase in mandatory blending levels was aimed at reducing the fuel import bill.
“We are losing huge sums of money through fuel imports,” she said.
“However, the impact on fuel prices cannot be felt now because service stations should first clear their E10 stocks before implementing the new E15 blend level.”
Some countries that have long embraced ethanol use have come up with vehicles that are compatible to 100 percent ethanol without modifications.
E15 blending level is being challenged in the courts by a Harare man Thabani Mpofu, who is suing Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, Zera and Green Fuels.
Mpofu filed a constitutional application challenging Green Fuels’ “monopoly and blending ratios” to levels beyond E10.
He argued that compulsory blending effectively bans unleaded fuel in Zimbabwe.
Mpofu further contends that Green Fuels’ monopoly and blending ratios did not guarantee fair competition and were not in the interest of motorists.
He is of the view that mandatory blending infringes on people’s rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.