Sales of E85 flex fuel in California in 2022 surged 66 percent over 2021 and more than doubled the pre-pandemic record set in 2019, new data released by the California Air Resources Board indicate. Last year, California drivers purchased over 103.5 million gallons (mg) of E85 flex fuel, a blend containing up to 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, for use in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). That’s up from about 62.5 mg in 2021.
California is one of just a handful of states that reports annual E85 sales volumes. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said the Golden State continues to lead the way when it comes to offering lower-carbon, lower-cost liquid fuels to consumers.
“Gas prices remain at elevated levels in California, and drivers are seeking out options at the pump that are both more affordable and better for the environment,” Cooper said. “E85 checks both of those boxes. E85 substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline, and the fuel typically sells for 25 to 40 percent less in California. This new data show that when E85 is made available and effectively promoted, FFV drivers will absolutely respond.”
Cooper noted that the surge in E85 sales in California is due to a combination of factors. “These results show what is possible when policies like the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and federal Renewable Fuel Standard are combined with smart promotional and marketing campaigns,” he said. “The California E85 experience should serve as a model for other states to emulate.”
RFA Member Pearson Fuels is California’s largest provider of E85 and has witnessed how the momentum is growing for E85. “Part of the massive growth last year came from severe gasoline price spikes, which saw E85 priced nearly $3 per gallon cheaper than regular unleaded gasoline,” said Doug Vind, managing member of Pearson Fuels. “In 2022 alone, we estimate FFV owners using E85 saved upwards of $200 million at the pump. As we continue to add stations, our 2023 volumes are tracking ahead of last year - so we expect solid growth again.”
Data from the California Energy Commission, to be updated next month for 2022, show that at the end of 2021 there were more than 1.2 million flex-fuel vehicles on California’s roadways.