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Consumers Are A-OK With E15 Fuel

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Just a few years ago, some convenience store retailers and consumers alike were hesitant to sell and purchase E15 fuel, respectively, due to misfueling concerns and allegations that the blend of 15-percent ethanol and 85-percent gasoline could cause damage to vehicle engines. Today, the thought process about E15 has clearly changed, according to a new consumer survey conducted by Carbonview Research, a sister company of Convenience Store News.

During the Convenience Store News 2015 Fuels and Tech Summit, held earlier this week, Randi Etzkin, manager of client research for Carbonview, shared the results of its survey of 942 fuel decisionmakers aged 18-64 in eight Midwest cities ripe with E15 expansion. The research revealed:

  • 55 percent of respondents want to find out more about E15;
  • 44 percent find E15 “appealing;”
  • 35 percent want to use E15 for their car; and
  • 34 percent said E15 is “believable.”

Etzkin acknowledged that price (cited by 71 percent of respondents) is the biggest factor consumers use to determine whether to purchase E15. If E15 — which carries an 88 octane — was sold at the pump at the same price as traditional E10 petroleum, 38 percent of those surveyed said they would likely buy the alternative fuel.

If E15 is priced 5 cents less than E10, 49 percent said they would likely buy E15, while a 10-cent difference would entice 60 percent of consumers to purchase E15 over E10.

Consumers also said they would be more likely to be loyal to the gas station that sold them E15. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they would likely use the same gas station for their next fillup.

“People familiar with E15 think it is appealing, intriguing and a quality product,” Etzkin said during her presentation.

On the flip side, those who said they would not purchase E15 cited performance and interest/need as the biggest reasons for not doing so.

The Carbonview executive did stress that the best way to advance the growth of E15 is by retailers educating consumers about the alternative fuel in any way possible.

E15 is currently offered in 175 locations throughout 19 states. It is approved for use in cars manufactured in the model year 2001 and newer.

The Convenience Store News Fuels & Tech Summit took place Dec. 7-8 at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa in Riviera Beach. The event was sponsored by Growth Energy, Warren Rogers and ZipLine.

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