The balance of Route E85: Diesel wins

Do you remember Route E85? It was a major trek around a few European countries driving exclusively Ford Flexifuel engines, running on ethanol, being compared side-to-side with regular gas and diesel counterparts. It was a total of 3,476 km (about 2,200 miles) across Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France.

Ford of France has shown the results and their big conclusion is that a Flexifuel engine is slightly more competitive in terms of cost than a gasoline counterpart but, from about 62,500 km on, buying a diesel is more cost-effective. To obtain this, bear in mind the lower price of diesel at most of European pumps compared to gasoline, the also lower price of E85 compared to gas or diesel but also the higher consumption of the car running on E85 and the higher purchase price of a diesel.

Some more details: the Ford C-Max running on E-85 had a 23 percent higher consumption than one running on unleaded. Speaking about emissions, if we take into account Ford's statement that 40 percent of the CO2 at the tailpipe is saved because of the "organic source" of the ethanol. Ford backs this statement up with two studies called Ademe/Direm and JRC Eucar Concawe.

Follow us after the jump for some detailed numbers from the trip.
On 55 liters of fuel (a full tank, 14.2 gal. approx.), the C-Max ran 488 km on E85, 601 km on unleaded and 784 km on diesel. Translated into consumption figures, the respective values were 11.28 l/100 for the E85, then 9,15 for the gas version and 6,76 on diesel (21, 26 and 36 MPG, respectively).

Bear in mind that the C-Max is a hefty vehicle and the powertrains were 1.8 liters with 125 HP in case of the E85/gasoline versions and 115 HP for the TDCI (diesel).

Speaking about emissions, the E85 and gas versions produced 598 kg of CO2 in the atmosphere, whereas the diesel was responsible of 487. If you consider that 40 percent of the E85 was previously captured by the plants used to make the ethanol, it leaves a better result of 359 kg when running on E85.

The study also offers the average prices at the pump of the fuels that were used for the test, so the economic impact could be calculated: 0.83 EUR/l in case of E85, 1.27 EUR/l for unleaded and 1.09 EUR/l for diesel, which translates into 4.40 USD/gal for E85, 6.73 USD/gal for unleaded and 5.30 for diesel (using 1 EUR = 1.37 USD)

The fuel cost per km of the three versions is 0.094 EUR/km for the E85 C-Max, 0.116 EUR/km for the gas version and 0.074 EUR/km for the diesel. When we include the purchase price of the vehicle (22,500 EUR for the Flexifuel and 23,750 for the Diesel version), we see that it's worth it to run your car on E85 if you bought the Flexifuel, but from 62,500 km (about 39,000 miles), it saves you more money at the pump to get the diesel. This helps explain why Europeans just love their diesels.

My question is about running this test using biodiesel from a reliable source. Unfortunately, but only Peugeot clearly states that its cars can run on up to a B30 mixture of biodiesel and regular diesel.

[Source: Ford]

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