SMMT statement on the revision of BS EN590 to allow B7 diesel

04 December 2009 #SMMT News

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) supports and promotes the interests of the UK automotive sector at home and abroad. Working closely with member companies, SMMT acts as the voice of the motor industry, providing expert advice to customers and external organisations. One of the largest and most influential trade associations operating in the UK, SMMT’s resources, reputation and unrivalled automotive data places it at the heart of the UK automotive industry.

Following the recent revision of BS EN 590:2009, the British standard for road diesel, to increase the possible bio-content in road diesel fuel to 7%, the SMMT and its members would like to reassure customers that vehicles are unlikely to encounter problems with the new fuel. The previous edition of BS EN 590 allowed the use of up to 5% bio-content and many suppliers have taken advantage of the full allocation since 2008 with no ill effects reported. In addition, several fuel injection equipment manufacturers have published a joint statement supporting the use of the new fuel standard (attached below). The increase to 7% will be phased in and it is very unlikely customers will notice any difference.

Since the introduction of the European Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EC) in 2003, member states have had an obligation to ensure that a minimum level of biofuels is used. In the UK the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation was introduced to implement this, and as a result, much of the diesel fuel supplied for road use since 2008 has had up to 5% bio-content, which was the maximum permitted.

The introduction of the European Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuels Quality Directive means that the proportion of biofuel for road transport use must increase over the coming years. To ensure that fuels available for road transport are fit for purpose, the EN 590 diesel standard was developed by CEN, the European Standards Committee. CEN has recently updated this standard to allow the use of up to 7% bio-diesel blended into the fuel, compared to the 5% previously allowed, to reflect the latest views of vehicle and fuel industries on the compatibility of vehicles with this fuel.

The European Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EC) states, that any petrol or diesel fuel containing more than 5% bio-content must be labelled to inform customers at the point of sale. In UK regulations the required label reads, ‘Not suitable for all vehicles: consult vehicle manufacturer before use’. Until the recent revisions to EN590 this requirement was consistent with the limit for bio-content in the fuel standard and consequently EN590 compliant fuels did not need to be labelled. However, now EN590 compliant road fuel may require labelling under the current UK regulations. This requirement of the directive will be repealed in April 2010, but until then fuel suppliers offering B7 diesel will have to label the pumps. The UK labelling regulations for such fuels are being amended and the required label will say: “Contains up to 7% biodiesel”.

Customers should not be alarmed by this labelling but are encouraged to ensure that they are aware of which fuel they are using. Higher biofuel blends such as B30 and E85, which are not compatible with all vehicles, will continue to display the current warnings ‘Not suitable for all vehicles: consult manufacturer before use.

Further Information:
If customers have concerns about issues relating to fuels, they are encouraged to contact their manufacturer.


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