Sales figures suggest that consumption of gasoline 98 has almost caught up to that of gasoline 95 in Estonia. One of the reasons for this is the biocomponent requirement Estonia adopted in April of last year and vehicle owners being wary of mixed fuel.
Consumption of gasoline 98 still made up just 15 percent of total gasoline sales in early 2019. When the bioadditives requirement entered into force in April of last year, most gas station operators started mixing gasoline 95 with bioethanol. This caused sales of 98 to grow by about 30 percent initially, with its market share hitting 47 percent by this summer.
Half of Circle K customers who drive gasoline-powered cars now prefer 98. CEO Kai Realo says that fuel sporting a higher octane rating makes people feel their car is livelier and drives better. On the other hand, people do not trust bioadditives.
"People are always a little skeptical of new things at first and while Estonia passed new legislation, there was little in terms of a national effort to raise awareness. It was left up to fuel sellers. Perhaps that is also why people were reluctant to adopt at first," Realo says.
The CEO says that people have no reason to fret as bioadditives have not caused breakdowns or additional problems.
Head of the TalTech chemical products testing lab Andre Gregor also says that such fears should be baseless as manufacturers take fuel requirements into account. That said, additives change fuel properties – such as bioethanol that contains oxygen that gasoline does not contain, has a different octane rating and vaporizing point and the calorific value of which is up to 30 percent lower.
"While this might affect fuel consumption to some extent, there are other factors that do, such as weather and road conditions, wind direction and speed, whether the car is towing a trailer or has a rooftop box etc.," Gregor says.
Gasoline 98 is around 5 cents per liter more expensive than 95.
"Even if you use gasoline 95E that has a bioethanol component and a slightly lower calorific value that causes fuel consumption to go up, while the price difference with using 98 will shrink a little, the latter will still remain the more expensive option," said Alan Vaht, member of the board of Alexela.
Gasoline 98 makes up a third of Alexela's gasoline sales that has not changed since last year. Alexela complies with its biofuel obligation by selling biogas and does not have to mix its 95 gasoline with bioethanol.
Editor: Marcus Turovski