The announcement that Gull will sell E10 biofuel from three service stations from this week is a positive step, says NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild president Jacqui Madelin, but it’s not the magic bullet that guarantees clean air and sustainable motoring.
“The Guild applauds a decision that shows New Zealand is at last catching up to the rest of the developed world when it comes to green motoring,” she said, “but while our market continues its reliance on the import of older cars it will have little useful impact and could cause as many problems as it solves.”
The best way to upgrade the efficiency of our vehicle fleet – not least because it brings other benefits, such as increased safety – is to encourage a younger vehicle fleet, she says.
More recent cars are generally more efficient; release fewer noxious emissions; and are better able to take advantage of greener fuels – including biofuels.
Using Fonterra-sourced whey to make biofuel adds New Zealand content to every litre, and makes our petroleum stock go further. That it also makes the government look green and gives Gull a marketing advantage is of no long-term gain to the NZ consumer.
Meanwhile there could be issues with older cars, particularly used imports. Guild business expert Richard Bosselman says, “Used Japanese cars built for that country’s domestic market are said to be incapable of tolerating a 10 percent biofuel blend, or any significant ethanol mix whatsoever.”
While car companies will no doubt do their best to answer queries relating to older cars, there are bound to be issues – not least, who will be responsible for them. Insurance companies? The importer? Or the manufacturer of a car that may never have been sold new in New Zealand?
Longer term, greater ethanol use may actually cause an increase in consumption; transport and storage costs may grow as biofuel cannot easily be shipped with full petrol; and once all companies are selling E10, demand could outstrip local supply.
And that’s before we consider the balance between reducing C02 emissions and the potential to increase other kinds of exhaust nasties.
The New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild is the professional body for the country’s automotive media. It membership comprises over 40 specialist motoring journalists in the print, broadcast and internet-based media.
For further information contact:
Motoring Writers’ Guild president
0274 751 521
Motoring Writers’ Guild vice president
027 686 3711