image001Fuel retailers have many choices today, from the brand of coffee to offer inside the station to what fuels to offer under the canopy.  Offering E85 is one such option, and provides consumers with another fuel choice at the pump.

While E85 has been in the marketplace for nearly three decades, this fuel has rarely gotten the attention it deserves. E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) is ~98 octane, and reduces emissions more than 30% over traditional gasoline. E85 is also defined as an alternative fuel, and is required for use by some fleets.

E85 can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are capable of operating on E85, regular gasoline, or any combination of the two.  There are now more than 20 million FFVs on the road today, or roughly 8% of all vehicles, representing more vehicles than require premium today. Do you dedicate a tank to premium today? If so, you may find you can increase your sales by offering E85

There are over 3,700 retail stations offering E85 today in the U.S. and more than 1,200 new stations scheduled to open in the next 18 months.

Equipment

E85 does require different equipment than regular gasoline. This equipment can have an additional cost above the gasoline-only version, dependent upon the component. A retailer can choose a conversion kit for existing equipment or purchase new component parts from tank to nozzle. E85 can easily be incorporated into multiproduct dispensers, eliminating the need for stand-alone equipment. Introducing E85 can also offer additional opportunities to provide other midlevel blends.

Incentives

Retailers that choose to offer E85 may be eligible for incentives at the state and federal level.  These incentives can potentially offset some or all costs associated with adding E85. Keep in mind you may be able to meet future regulatory requirements, such as EMV, by adding new dispensers that offer E85 while taking advantage of E85 incentives to cover the cost. Available incentives can be reviewed at www.byoethanol.com/incentives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are my potential customers?

Consumers are likely your number one opportunity, and federally-regulated fleets including the post office, state fleets, departments of agriculture and utilities. All of these fleets must include alternative fuel vehicles, and in many cases they are FFVs.   Also, consider the new car dealerships in your area. Do they offer FFVs? If so, these dealerships receive money from the auto manufacturers to fill their vehicles before they are delivered to their new owners. Why not work with the dealership to ensure the first fill of these FFVs is E85? Then, ask the dealership to include a coupon, or information with the sale, with your station location and perhaps the new buyer will use your station. In the end, there are many potential customers who will use your station if no one else offers E85 in your area.

Why sell E85?

You can service an untapped market. Offering E85 provides retailers an opportunity to attract new customers by offering a unique product.   E85 is also historically at a discount to regular unleaded, and might allow you to display a much lower price on your price sign than your competition, increasing traffic to your station.

Will the RFA help promote that I have E85?

If you offer E85, RFA will ensure that your station is listed in our station locator found at www.E85prices.com. It will allow E85 users to find you on the website, or through our E85prices.com mobile app.

More information

If you would like more information, or simply have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Robert White at rwhite@ethanolrfa.org.

Useful links

2017 E85 Brochure with List of FFVs Produced from 1999-2017 (Browser-friendly version)

2017 E85 Brochure with List of FFVs Produced from 1999-2017 (Print-ready version)

Handbook for Handling, Storing & Dispensing E85

E85 Fuel Ethanol: Industry Guidelines, Specifications & Procedures

BYO Ethanol Campaign: E85 Incentives

E85 Laws

Fuels Institute: E85 Market Performance Analysis