It is now four years since I started driving a car powered by bio-ethanol. Those four years ended yesterday when I returned the car to the dealer with only a few days left to run on the lease.
The car that I have replaced it with no longer runs on bio-ethanol (E85), although it does use the new E10 fuel.
So how have those four years been and why did I switch back?
Well, whilst on the one hand it was nice to try something new and be environmentally friendly at the same time, it did come with some drawbacks. The main one being that, although it was cheaper than normal petrol, the fuel consumption was slightly higher with bio-ethanol and at first there were only about 70 petrol stations in Germany selling it.
More recently, on the way to Rügen for example, I have come across some petrol stations on or near the motorways selling it, which has been a pleasant surprise. But outside of Germany I don’t believe I’ve seen it yet on my travels.
With the higher consumption it has also meant that a day trip to somewhere like Cologne or Saarbrucken is just about possible without going to a petrol station on the way back, but it is pushing it if there are any hold ups.
But since most of my appointments are within a 20km radius of home, that was rarely an issue and I liked the convenience of driving to my local garage at any time of the day or night and filling up using my own coded key. At the end of the month I just a received an invoice for the total due.
The real reason that I have reverted to a “normal” car though, is that Ford simply don’t make the “Flexifuel” model with the same specification as I had previously.
So instead I now have a car with an “EcoBoost” engine in it. Apparently this uses 20% less fuel than a normal engine, and so is cheaper to run and has less emissions. It also goes into a type of “standby” mode when you are waiting at traffic lights or level crossings, and recommends the driver which gear they should drive in for maximum fuel efficiency.
It may not be the great leap forward to using other forms of energy in cars, but I still hope that it is a step in the right direction. I’ll let you know how I get on after a few hundred kilometres!