By on April 27, 2015

Octane Ratings With 2013 Fuel Prices

Automakers are looking to boost octane in the gasoline consumers use as a possible new tool to cheaply and easily meet ever-tightening standards.

At the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit last week, panelists representing Ford, General Motors, Chevron, and Renewable Fuels Association discussed the idea of raising the octane rating of regular gasoline from 87 to 95, Automotive News reports.

The group agreed that by doing so, fuel economy would climb between 3 percent and 6 percent while also lowering CO2 emissions by 2 percent. In turn, the engineers could make a few modifications to the pistons and/or cylinder heads in order to increase a given engine’s compression ratio – a process that can occur quickly with little in the way of investment or labor – to enable the use of higher-octane fuels.

However, boosting the octane rating would also boost the price per gallon of gasoline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration noted that the current gulf between regular and high-octane blends comes to an average of 37 cents as of last week. While automakers aren’t willing to make their consumers pay more at the pump for the touted improvements, they’re also finding less inexpensive methods to meet increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions standards, such as the 2025 mandate of 54.5 mpg fleet average.

Another problem: as newer vehicles with higher-compression engines would benefit from the increase in octane, Chevron research engineer Amir Maria said most vehicles on the road at present would be better off on 87 octane – the rating the engines were calibrated to run – and consumers would be dinged by as much as $1,500 more over 200,000 miles if they went for 95 octane.

[Photo credit: Upupa4me/Flickr]

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122 Comments on “Automakers Consider Octane Increase For Better Fuel Economy, Emissions...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    There are two themes in play as of late. A shorter term one: artificially drive the price of gasoline up on the pump level through a variety of means and a longer running one: Earth worship at the expense of the proles.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      It isn’t about earth worship. It’s about eliminating the middle class by any and all means.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      At worst – $1500 over 200,000 miles? Dude – raise the minimum wage and get on with it.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Whatever was spent on your education, it was too much. Why not just make everything free? That would be much more better!

        • 0 avatar
          Ron B.

          CJinSD The late Baroness Thatcher put that very succinctly,”socialism only works until you run out of other peoples money..”

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Ironically, the middle class was the strongest during the 1950s-60s when the US had the closest thing to a Western European style socialism.

            Since the 1980s and onward, it’s been pretty much downhill for the middle class.

            That whole “trickle-down” garbage was just that – garbage.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @bd2
            Somewhat amazed how some put down Corporations outside the U.S.as “socialist” I presume they mean Government owned to some degree.
            Renault-Nissan is the 4th largest Automaker in the world and growing, Airbus, has over 50% of major Airline frames, starting with 15% ,BAE systems is the third largest supplier of defence equipment globally

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            @RR

            Lower Saxony holds a 20.1% stake in VW and at one time, Iran was the biggest stake-holder in Daimler (the Shah was the impetus for Mercedes developing the G-wagon) and now Kuwait owns a chunk of Daimer AG.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …..That whole “trickle-down” garbage was just that – garbage…..

            Ain’t that the truth. I laugh when I hear how “socialism” is eliminating the middle class. The polices are written to overwhelmingly benefit the haves (think the Bush tax cuts for those who remember as an example) while throwing a few juicy bones to those at the bottom to prevent an uprising. Voodoo economics, indeed.

            $1,500 over 200K miles? Sounds like a bargain to me. I think most people lose that much change in their couch.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            If there is 1500 bucks in my couch then I am drinking some good bourbon tonight!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You are missing the point. The general theme is again, artificially increase costs at the pump. Be it direct taxation, ethanol, new environmental fees, squeezing refinery capacity, or in this case octane manipulation.

        WTI trades at $56.63/42gal per barrel = $1.348/gal unrefined raw material. RBOB trades at just over $2.00 for May delivery for roughly a 65 cent/gallon refining cost, today for the whole nation. We are already seeing $2.75-3.00 in the Northeast and $3.10+ in Cali which a good bit of is excessive taxation. That’s at $55/barrel, now let’s nevermind that at $95/barrel in Aug 2014 we were paying $3.75-4.00 despite nearly double the raw material cost and focus on that $1500 figure @ 200K. Half of $1500 is $750 on a hundred thousand miles, at 25mpg perpetually that’s 4000/gal of fuel. 4000gal/$750= 5.33 cents/gal in perpetuity because nothing is ever reviewed or repealed. For octane. That you don’t need, asked for, or that benefits you. Five cents is 2.5% of cost at a $2.00 figure, that’s kind of steep for universal fricking octane.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The biggest artificial increase at the cost of the pump (before the recent drop) was the hike in the price of oil due to the flood of speculators.

          Secondly, it’s the US refineries (still not at close to maximum production) exporting refined fuels (where it became the no.1 US export).

          3rd, it’s the US refiners having been consolidated into a few big operations for each region (the larger refiners would buy out the smaller refineries and then shut them down) – where 1 shutting down for “maintenance” and the switch-over to blends would cut supply drastically and hike prices (as well as the near-annual fire/explosion closing down another refinery in the region).

          One thing which would lower the cost of fuel would be to go to a uniform blend/requirement across all regions but this would be hard to do since different regions depend on different suppliers and hence, have different refining requirements (lighter sweet crude vs. heavy or ultra-heavy crude).

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      How is increasing the regular octane rating a bad thing? If they do this, they’ll sell tons more of the higher octane fuel. Due to the higher demand, output will increase and prices will drop. My old LS will cry tears of happiness as it cannot ever suffer regular fuel from an unsuspecting driver again. My Focus ST will adjust all the way up for top HP. I’ll pay less relative to the cost of my current premium fuel with zero change in my behavior. I say that’s a win if we can get oil companies to all do this simultaneously.

    • 0 avatar
      Ron B.

      You are actually describing a very real thing, the imposition of a tax to force the price of commodities higher,thus making finished products deaer,which in turn forces down consumption and in the end saving the planet.
      In the mid 2000;s an Indian economist suggested this and in an interview with Stephen Sacker on the BBC was asked if anyone would vote for a political party who used this in their policy . The answer was “yes,if you don’t tell the voters…”
      Well it came to pass with election of the pathetic Rudd labor government in Australia .They had employed an economist,Ross Garnault to write a report of the feasibility of such a policy and they implemented some of the reports findings . This became the infamous carbon tax which saw electricity prices rise so far,so fast that the poor(as a generic term for anyone in OZ who earns less than $50,000AUD per year) were forced to stop using lighting and heating because they basically could no longer afford to use electricity.
      It was all fairy land stuff and saw our country driven into debt ($600billion over 6 years) as we struggled to pay bills and the big income earning companies shutting down operations here because their profit base dissipated.
      Every time the price of oil in Texas rose our fuel price increased although we were a net exporter of oil and our petrol comes from Singapore .
      The carbon tax made it very uneconomic to refine oil here.
      An extract from the Garnault report of 2008..
      “..Economy-wide pricing of carbon is the centre piece of any policy designed to reduce emissions at the lowest possible costs.
      The difference between the costs, and potential environmental outcomes, of market-based measures (carbon pricing) and regulatory interventions is large.
      The effect of a carbon price on the economy remains modest, and the impact on most industries small compared to other cost rises and fluctuations….”
      The report was based on one mans view of the world and was never subjected to any real rigorous examination apart from bickering in the parliament .
      http://www.garnautreview.org.au/update-2011/update-papers/up6-carbon-pricing-and-reducing-Australias-emissions.html

      So,as the old saying has “he who refuses to study history,is cursed to repeat it…”

  • avatar
    thegamper

    This seems like a pie in the sky proposal at this point. 93 Octane still isn’t available in many parts of the country. The cost is too much for what is gained. It would be a much easier sell if the emissions reduction was larger and or the fuel economy of cars currently on the road would actually improve.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      “93 Octane still isn’t available in many parts of the country”

      Wait, wut? I’m a Northerasterner that’s driven South, Midwest, Southwest, West Coast, and Northwest, and I’ve never had a problem finding premium. High up in Denver and ABQ it’s lower octane premium (I think 85 – 88 – 90 if I remember correctly), but that’s only high altitude cities.

      So unless premium don’t exist in Montana (I know it exists in North Dakota having ‘enjoyed’ a Fargo summer once), not sure where you’re talking about.

      As far as raising the octane, meh. The engineer in me loves the idea of efficiency, however it’s obtained. The Fox and MSNBC proles can apply nonsensical emotional values to that idea and argue amongst themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        There may be a couple of stations in the Omaha metro that dispense 93, but I don’t know where they are and it’s certainly not widely available here. Generally, the options in this part of fly-over country are 87-89-sometimes 91. A *lot* of stations don’t carry 91, only 87-89, especially out in the smaller bedroom communities.

        • 0 avatar
          morbo

          Huh, who knew. I travel to airports frequently for my job, so perhaps my experience is biased by what I see near the airport. I almost always see 87-89-93. The only time I can recall the high end octane lower than 93 is in the high alt. states, and Old Man Getty’s Philadelphia refinery (now Russian Lukoil) churning out 92 octane).

          I know around the northeast midgrade is blended at/near the nozzle from a mix of regular and high grade. I’d assume something similar must occur nationwide to create the different octane blends. it seems bizarre that there wouldn’t be a direct 93 octane available, unless the refineries out there just don’t make 93 octane.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            We’re in the heart of corn country, ethanol is heavily subsidized and the 87 and 89 are both ethanol blends now. My guess is that 91 is cheaper than 93 and since it’s pure gas, the delta between subsidized 87 and 89 (which also enjoy an octane boost thanks to the ethanol) and pure 93 would be economically unattractive, ergo we get 91.

            Before 87 became an ethanol blend, 89 was the cheapest gas available thanks to the ethanol subsidy. I guess I should say, 89 wasn’t the cheapest gas available, it’s that everyone was helping you fill your gas tank.

          • 0 avatar
            thegamper

            I was not aware of that either until I bought my 2006 Mazdaspeed6. Shortly after I bought it was recalled for a reflash that I only later discovered was the result of too many being sold in regions where 93 octane was not available thus causing some mechanical issues. So it was reflashed for 91 I believe which sucked because I think it nerfed the car a little.

            Pays to do homework on recalls involving emissions and/or reflash. Not always good for everyone.

        • 0 avatar
          probert

          Order it from the distributer and change the sign on the pump.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The typical US standard is 87/89/91, although it varies.

        US gas formulations are all over the board. We could save money if these would be mostly standardized, as individual refiners cannot serve all markets due to the variations between and even within states.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        There is only a single gas station in all of Portland Maine and the surrounding towns that has 93 octane gas – they have it shipped in from New Hampshire. All the rest are 91. My Triumph Spitfire much prefers 93, being bored, stroked, and compression bumped, so I buy it from that station. Price is ~$.10 higher than elsewhere, not big deal.

        There are rumors that the Maine legislature is considering dropping the 10% ethanol requirement in gas sold in Maine – THAT would make me jump for joy far more than 95 octane gas.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      This is as likely as the 48 volt systems (to replace 12 volt) that automakers have been making noise about it.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        I actually did some corrosion testing on the 48V indicate systems.

        In a former job.

        13 years ago, when they were ‘imminent’…. yeah, probably not happening anytime soon.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Naw, 48 volt is more likely.

        It’s not all that hard to have a Legacy 12V bus around for aftermarket stereos and lighter-powered equipment.

        And then the only important bits that are different are batteries, which isn’t so hard to manage, unlike “half the gas stations in the country”…

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    But would my 20 year old car still run the 95 octane?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I imagine if you have fuel injection, yes. But will carb’d motors have issues with it?

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        What percentage of road-legal vehicles are still carbureted?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Actually I was thinking lawnmowers, shredders, and gas powered equipment (also bikes).

          • 0 avatar
            Felis Concolor

            From my friend’s experience, small engines used in back yard and lawn maintenance tools will love it.

            For a year I cursed at my POS Ryobi modular yard tool system, until a friend borrowed it against my warnings, then informed me I was a horrid cheapskate and he never had a problem with it whenever he put high test gasoline in the fuel tank. Now I love my darling Ryobi and make certain I spend that extra quarter when filling up the gas can for a weekend’s yard maintenance adventure.

            Small engines tend to require high octane fuel to extract maximum performance from them; the big issue with them is ethanol’s hygroscopic nature and what it does to their tighter clearances.

        • 0 avatar
          CobraJet

          Mine is still carbureted. It loves 93 octane and, better yet, ethanol-free 93.

      • 0 avatar
        jdogma

        We don’t know. If the octane increase is due to ethanol content, certain gasket, o-ring and hose materials have problems. If the octane increase is due to more highly branched hydrocarbons, older engines should not have problems (and mileage will be better than with ethanol). If the octane increase is from increased amounts of aromatic hydrocarbons, it could pose a problem for older engines.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      Probably yes. Higher octane is harder to light off, so it may be more difficult for older vehicles with weaker ignition systems.

      If “regular” is going to have a higher RON than all gas on sale now does that mean we just one grade of gas, or will premium now be 100 and 104?

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        I think there will be a transition period, where old format 87 will still be available. Only the top of the line 91/93 being raised to 95. So, new car buyers and sports/luxury car (old or new) will use 95 at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      In Norway, we only have 95 and 98 octane gas (ROZ standard though), never experienced trouble with mowers, boats or classic cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        95 in Europe is equivalent to about 90-91 in the US. Your regular is close to our premium.

        • 0 avatar
          love2drive

          I always assumed I was doing right by my 74 Cadillac putting premium gas in it – was I wrong? Runs well on it, know that.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If the car runs well on regular, then paying for premium is a waste of money. More isn’t better when it comes to octane.

            If the car is supposed to run on regular but seems to need premium, then there may be a mechanical problem that should be fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      CompWizrd

      You might have problems.. I remember a TSB about driveability problems on Chrysler’s of that age, the Neon in particular. Using 91 octane in the 87 rated engine would cause cold weather problems.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Your 20 year old car will run fine on 95 octane, nothing to worry about. Now 80 octane, that might not work out so good.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Makes sense in some ways. Increases the cost of fuel, which reduces regulatory burden on the manufacturers, and suppresses demand for gasoline.

    If you’re going to screw with the oil industry and our fuel supply, require companies to blend domestic carbon-neutral renewable petroleum into our gasoline. The oil industry might complain, but it’s not like they lose, if they gain more control over supply.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Increases the cost of fuel, which reduces regulatory burden on the manufacturers, and suppresses demand for gasoline.”

      This is incredibly dangerous from an economic standpoint, as when a genuine oil crisis does occur the pump price will become quickly unsustainable. Seems though the inbred psychopaths in charge don’t seem to care…

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You have it backwards. Those who overconsume are the ones who are squeezed the most when prices rise.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Which is everyone not in a hybrid, EV, PHEV, or newer I4 which can achieve 28/city. So, most of the country gets squeezed which creates economic problems. Now add a genuine supply problem or major geopolitical conflict.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Policies that reduce overall levels of consumption reduce the impacts of supply shocks.

            If you really care about national security, then figure out how to make Americans less dependent on gasoline and oil.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree with your point on national security, but as you already know there is no silver bullet to the problem.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Putting people in concentration camps reduces their dependence on petroleum products. So does leading a short, brutal life in primitive conditions.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Right. Driving a car that gets decent fuel economy is just like living in Auschwitz.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Under normal circumstances, I’d agree. Increasing the cost of transportation is economic suicide in the United States; however, our addiction to oil has overwhelmed other economic factors, as witnessed by the global credit crisis, which was catalyzed by $140 oil.

        Domestic energy production has alleviated price and import concerns, but fracking is not a long-term plan. Domestic renewable petroleum kills three birds with one stone. US oil production capacity becomes more sustainable in the long run. Demand for gasoline declines. Net carbon emissions decline.

        It’s not a perfect solution by any stretch, but we can’t wait around for the market to produce a silver bullet. It probably never will since governments meddle in energy markets, like mercantilists meddle in the supply/demand of specie.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      There is absolutely no reason to believe that costs would increase long-term. The price difference between 87-89-91-93 at the pump does not reflect production cost. It’s just classic up-sell pricing. Mid-grade is 5% above regular, and premium 10% above regular, irrespective of refining costs.

      Same thing happened when leaded gas was phased-out. It was the low-cost option at gas stations, but it cost more to produce because 99% of sales (and refining capacity) were unleaded. If anything, the price of regular unleaded went down the day the last leaded pump was scrapped.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’ve been told that the reason California premium is only 91 octane is because our mix of vehicles is such that premium is purchased too high a percentage of the time to allow the concentration of desirable properties in our premium grade needed for 93 octane while maintaining minimal requirements in regular grade gasoline. The good stuff is relatively scarce. I also have a gas station on my corner that sells 100 octane unleaded. It is $9.00 a gallon. It isn’t priced that way to maximize profits, as it would sell much better at a price that doesn’t limit customers to an infinitesimal percentage of the population. If they could sell it for a dollar premium, it would have something like a 25% take rate instead of a .25% take rate. They sell it for a 200% premium because it costs a lot to produce from scarce materials and it can only be produced in tiny amounts.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          It’s much more likely that premium is 91 because that’s what the regional refineries are providing. Most of the gas will come from one or two refineries, so what they offer is what you get. Different chains may pay for different additive packages, but it’s all the same gas.

          We don’t have branded refineries anymore. In the 1970s and before there was a real difference between Amoco and Exxon. I believe it was Amoco that never used lead on the East Coast.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            When crude oil is refined into gasoline, the refinery doesn’t have all that much control over what comes out. Crude oil is composed of many components, and a refinery separates them, sorting all the different parts by density. The heaviest goop, like tar, is near the bottom, while the really light stuff, like butane, is near the top.

            Somewhere in the upper ranges of the stack are the components of gasoline. There are between 10 and 15 different blend stocks, each with a different octane rating, which are mixed together to make gasoline.

            The crude oil being used and little else determine the amount of each blend stock available for mixing. Generally, if you just dump all the blend stocks into a bucket, you end up with something around 88 or 89 octane. If you’re selective and only mix the good stuff, you can make 92, 93 or even 95 octane. But once you take out the good stuff, you’re left with crap–something like 85 octane. Then you have to leave enough good stuff in the bucket to bring the mix up to at least 87 octane. This limits the amount of 93 octane gas you can make. If you make 91 octane premium instead, you use up less of the high-octane stocks, allowing you to make a higher proportion of premium fuel.

            The proposal of mandating that only 95 octane gasoline be sold will place an egregious burden on the consumer, sort of like requiring that only renewable electricity be used, or only scavenged food be consumed.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            CJ,

            It’s not that simple. There are several steps that refineries can take to increase octane.

            These involve significant capital investment (as almost everything in the oil business does), so there’s little reason to implement them if competition or regulations don’t change.

            95 octane wouldn’t be an egregious burden on refiners if they were given enough lead time, just as they were with unleaded and low sulfur. No oil execs will be forced to send their kids to school without breakfast, and US pump prices would still be among the lowest in the world.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            This is exactly the case in Maine. Nearly all the gasoline in Southern Maine comes from a single distribution point in South Portland. The only difference between brands is the additive package dumped in the truck with the gas. So when that distributor stopped selling 93 octane gas in favor of 91 octane gas, that was that.

            As I mentioned previously, there is one station that has their gas trucked up from New Hampshire, and carries 93. They advertise that fact, and they have a loyal buyer group for it at a small price premium.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          European regular gas is about 91 octane.

          US-market cars are generally made to operate on 87. Many of those that require premium are European cars, for the reason noted above.

          There’s no point in using more octane than needed. Putting 100 octane gas in a car made to run on 87 would be an enormous waste of money.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Europe uses Research Octane Number for its gas rating while the US uses Anti-Knock Index, which is (RON+Motor Octane Number)/2. The difference between the RON and AKI is typically four to six, so 91 octane European regular would be about 86 octane in the US.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The standard fuel in Europe is 95 RON, which is about 90-91 AKI.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Someone still makes a car that “requires” premium? I’ve seen a lot of “91 or 93 octane recommended” but very few premium only stickers in the last 5+ years.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My ’13 Forester XT says it requires premium — “Premium Fuel Only” — in the manual, on the gas cap, and on the instrument panel.

            Here in Washington our premium is usually 92. I put a tank of 87 in the XT once just to see what would happen. Weather at the time was in the 50s. There was no knock, but the engine computer was clearly pulling timing and the engine was quite noticeably down on power. Based on that I’m a bit afraid of what would happen if I were to use regular fuel in hot weather.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Gee, it’s as if the people who write laws are trying to make the automobile economically and legally impossible for anyone but the wealthy and well-connected to afford, but the ingenuity of the human intellect keeps thwarting them by coming up with new ways to meet these insane standards.

    How else can one explain the relentless pushing of the message that cars are never clean, safe or efficient enough?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Interesting, isn’t it?

      The real problem with fuel economy in North America is that to really move the needle, you need to right-size vehicles, but small don’t sell, especially in sedan or hatchback form factor.

      As with our houses, NA market buyers tend to buy the “most” we can afford. (Not judging, just observing.) The current crop of compact and mid size cars is pretty marvellous, but it’s CUVs getting 21 mpg and pickups getting 14 that are selling.

      So if Wall Street requires that you sell motorized bricks, and the government requires that you increase economy, the inevitable conclusion is that you have to make the bricks more efficient.

      I recognize that vehicle classifications under CAFE play a role here, I’m just speaking in generalities. The last gas spike suggests that the market just won’t move significantly toward lighter, slower, more aerodynamic vehicles at prices under $5/gallon.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yes, it IS interesting.

        All those self-proclaimed “experts” whining over how octane makes little or no difference, and here the automakers are considering increasing the required octane levels.

        I say let’s raise compression levels in ALL ICEs as high as possible!

        • 0 avatar
          turf3

          In a given vehicle, if you use lower octane fuel than the car is rated for, ignition timing will sometimes be retarded by the ECU to avoid detonation, thus a small decrease in power/economy and probably a small increase in emissions. In the same vehicle, using a higher octane than the car is rated for might cause the ignition timing to be advanced more when the car is operated at near-detonation conditions, or maybe it won’t have any effect on the timing scheme. My own testing showed no effect whatsoever on economy (one year’s worth of premium vs. one year’s worth of cheapo) on a car rated for premium, thus indicating that I don’t operate the car close to the near-detonation conditions enough to matter. I doubt whether anyone does.

          However, if you raise the compression ratio, you can get more power per unit of fuel, thus you can use smaller displacement engines for the same power output. This would require combustion chamber/piston changes. On a turbocharged engine, wastegate calibrations could be altered to increase boost, or the turbocharger itself could be changed; either of these would be less trouble than combustion chamber/piston changes, although they might require the same amount of validation testing (no one wants little holes in the tops of their pistons).

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Here in Alberta, our local Husky stations had 89 octane for the same price as everyone elses 87 octane regular. Their mid-grade was 91 octane, which everyone else sold as premium for the higher price. Husky’s premium was 94 octane while everyone elses premium was 91. I could buy Husky midgrade for my Lexus V8 and keep it and my wallet happy. Then our govt came along and said they weren’t allowed to compete in the market based on octane, only on price. So, Husky was forced to be like all the others. This is how Husky explained it to me.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      They got that higher octane by blending ethanol back when ethanol wasn’t as common at the pumps. Apparently, it didn’t meet some regulation on vapor pressure. I’d much rather have ethanol-free 91 than ethanol-laden 94, unless I had a vehicle with the boost turned up too high for 91.

      “Dear customer,

      Thank you for your e-mail regarding our 94 Octane fuel. The discontinuation of our premium 94 Octane fuel comes as a result of changes to regulations that restrict the Reid Vapour Pressure (RVP) of gasoline. RVP measures the volatility of gasoline. In short, the addition of ethanol to gasoline adds to the overall RVP of the product.

      For some time, Husky has received special allowance to produce and distribute our ethanol-blended 94 Octane gasoline; however, this allowance is no longer in place and as a result, our suppliers have chosen not to continue to provide Husky with our premium fuel.

      The unfortunate outcome, as you’ve experienced, is that we can no longer provide our ethanol-blended premium fuel to our customers. Husky still supplies high-quality, ethanol-blended regular & mid-grade (87 & 89 Octane) and 91 Octane (no ethanol) fuel at most locations across the province.

      We know this is a disappointment and for this, we apologize. We sincerely hope that you will continue to choose Husky and Mohawk for our other exceptional products and services, as well as for your refuelling needs.

      Kind Regards,

      Husky Customer Service
      1-800-661-3835
      [email protected]

      http://www.evolutionm.net/forums/canadian-forum/518000-goodbye-octane-94-husky.html

  • avatar
    ajla

    Why not make “premium” 95 and keep 87 as “regular”?

  • avatar
    kobo1d

    Can’t even get 93 in California outside of specialty stations that also sell race fuel. If 95+ becomes available, it’s time to buy a turbo car with a lot of power left on the table and turn up the wick (Mk7 GTI anyone?)

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’d argue that the latest raft of DI+turbo motors already benefit from using premium, in terms of increased power and fuel economy. It’s just not a good business move to sell the mass market motor as having a premium requirement, as such they are tuned to tolerate 87.

    I remember driving around with my grandpa in his Moskvitch, he fueled it exclusively with “A-80” gasoline which I gather is about as combustible as dirty dishwater. That car did have a bad habit of dieseling after it was shut off…

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      And yet people keep buying the big-inch I4s in family vehicles and big stonking V8s in their trucks. Not disputing your point, just noting that there is some apparent skepticism in the market for the small-displacement approach.

      It also may be a credit to just how good the older, naturally aspirated engines are at this point in their life cycles.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Oh you’re preaching to the choir my friend! Honda’s EarthDreams 2.4L totally curb stomps Ford’s EcoBoost 1.6 in the Fusion in any measure of acceleration, fuel economy, or NVH. Same applies to the bread and butter port injected 2.5L in the Camry when compared to the 1.6T. Heck Ford’s own 2.5L naturally aspirated I4 probably beats the 1.6T in real world circumstances. When I said “increased power and fuel economy” I was referring to these new DI/turbo motors running on premium vs these same new engines running on regular.

  • avatar
    eManual

    How about we make car tires no greater than 16″ in hub diameter and skinnier? Lighter weight tires help in both acceleration for city use and less air resistance on the highway. Even Al Gore said we could meet these same goals by pumping up our tires! He was on the right track – tires are a relatively easy way to gain mileage.

    And replacing the SUV/CUV with the more practical hatchback / wagon / smaller mini-van designs would also help. My 2000 Impala has a very comfortable (contoured) split bench front seat that can take 6 people in a pinch, while getting 33+ mpg on the highway. With a more modern engine/drivetrain, it would more than meet the measly 3 to 6% (from 33 to 34/35 mpg in this case) gain without using expensive gas. Only Bureaucrats looking at numbers could think up this dumb idea. Let the market decide.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Stop making sense.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Man I could go back to 16 in rims, although now I get happy whenever I see tires with actual sidewalls which is usually 60 to 65 aspect ratio on current vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          turf3

          Yes, the wheel thing is nuts!

          Our ’74 full size Chevy station wagon had 15″ wheels. In those days, small cars had 13″ wheels, medium cars had 14″ wheels, large cars and full size pickups (half ton) had 15″ wheels. 99% of the time, for 99% of drivers, they worked better than the current 17-18″ wheels on compact cars. And the roads were (generally) in better condition than today.

          Give me 65 and 70 series tires on steel wheels, at least as the standard package on economy cars, please!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            There’s a pretty new Escalade driven by a neighbor, on the factory 22 inch rims with low profile tires. I wasn’t even surprised when I saw that the front and rear tires weren’t a matching set, I don’t even want to know what they cost a piece. But that basically matches the ‘hood-rich’ persona of a person that drives a used Escalade and lives in an apartment. For reference I was able to buy 4 quality tires for my Civic and get them mounted for a little over $300, likewise for my gf’s Camry SE on 17″ wheels for $550.

            I mentioned this an another topic but when I was driving on I86 near Erie a few weeks ago, there were 2 cars within a 5 mile stretch of terribly potholed interstate with blown out tires. Both late model luxury sedans with the upper-trim level up-sized wheels. I cruised through with my 265/70R16s.

          • 0 avatar
            TR4

            My father’s full size 1966 Dodge Polara had 8.25-14s. Aspect ratio was not stated, but I guess was around 80%.

          • 0 avatar
            Truckducken

            Yes, but the tire manufacturers are geniuses! With the big wheel trend, sidewalls keep getting shorter, and tires contain less material. However, as tires’ inside diameter keeps increasing (even though the outside is more or less constant), the tire guys charge us suckers MORE money for LESS tire! Time to fight back.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I cant be seen in anything smaller than dubs.

      • 0 avatar
        turf3

        You know, I suspect that the ultra-low-aspect-ratio tires may also cost some fuel efficiency in rolling resistance. I am not an auto tire expert, but I do know something about bicycle tires. The more flexible the structure of the tire, the lower the rolling resistance. Now the very low aspect tires must have a very stiff tread to resist turning into a doughnut shape when inflated to pressure. It seems that a tire that is closer to a circle in cross section could have a more flexible tread, which ought to reduce rolling resistance. If this is true, it would be regardless of the actual width of the tire and the air resistance. In other words, a tire of higher aspect ratio, and the same width and OD, should in theory be able to have a more flexible tread and lower rolling resistance than a low aspect tire of the same actual width and OD.

        Any tire experts out there to confirm or refute?

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Well my first gut instinct would be that a hypothetically perfectly hard round surface would be ideal. People pump up their tires (to dangerously high levels sometimes) chasing that last little bit of fuel economy. Underinflated tires will negatively affect fuel economy as well as get dangerously hot at high speeds as they flex more than they were designed to. I think more importantly, the increased rolling diameter comes with a proportional increase in width, and that’s where rolling resistance increases. I really do think that the biggest motivator behind big wheels is strictly aesthetics, but itself that originates from sports cars having large diameter, wide wheels with have short sidewalls with little flex for better handling. And with side impact standards resulting in high beltlines, it’s getting harder and harder to style cars that will look good with a set of 15 inch wheels.

          • 0 avatar
            eManual

            I thought the high beltlines were more due to the European pedestrian impact standards than the side impact, changing the overall look. In a side impact, both the bumpers and front end should be much lower than the window sill height.

        • 0 avatar
          eManual

          turf3 – I’m not an expert on tires, but I did ride a bicycle 4000+ miles through Canada. To get the lowest resistance, you needed the highest pressure (95+ lbs) with the narrowest width (1 1/8″) and good hard surface (concrete) roads. As you point out, the tire was more like a circle, but that made the contact area very small, making it much harder to ride on gravel roads, etc. The ultimate bicycle speed tire (in the 1970’s) was called a “sew-up” where the tube and the tire had no bead and road on concave (cross section) rims.

          Actually, a more flexible tread is bad for mileage, adding both more surface friction (due to the increased contact area) and heating up the rubber due to the flexing. But like always, there are tradeoffs for such “high mpg” tires, which have a much harsher ride.

          • 0 avatar
            Ron B.

            “…The ultimate bicycle speed tire (in the 1970’s) was called a “sew-up” where the tube and the tire had no bead and road on concave (cross section) rims…”In the late 60’s I was racing bikes and I used them. Because the tires were an insane $36 each(!!!) I used to unpick the stiching and repair any punctures myself. The tires were glued to the rims to hold them on then pumped up hard. Hence the need for quick release hubs and lots of spare rims. Those ‘campag’ rims were a thing of beauty.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I imagine they could bump up the octane on the cheap by adding more ethanol. Another way to push E15 on the public.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yes, they could.

      But for many E10 was bad enough in New Mexico. People that could not afford to buy new or newer cars are risking their lives driving around in old cars that ooze gasoline from cracks in the old rubber hoses and seals, brought on by the alcohol in the gasoline.

      Plus, New Mexico is not a big producer of corn, but it is a HUGE producer of oil and natgas.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Of course the manufacturers will get an exemption from ethanol use for EPA consumption testing. Otherwise, any gains from compression increases would be lost by lack of energy density of the new high octane fuel. Meanwhile, the public will have to buy E15+ that diminishes our fuel economy while elevating costs of both fuel and food. It’s the perfect solution for the misanthropes, I mean environmentalists.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    So lets :

    –make gas that 95% of the world cannot get full benefit from.
    –will raise the price of ‘regular’ by 80cents or more
    –will make the peak prices that much higher when gas does go back to previous 3.99c a gallon
    –will reduce performance on much older cars.

    all so a few people can keep their jobs and pre gas price crash lifestyles
    ..

    yah ? progress ?

    instead make
    –‘plus’ 91 octane
    –‘Premium’ 94/95 octane depending on elevation.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Agree with making 91 the plus grade. Since E85 is already 94-96 octane, let the manufacturers experiment with E85-only cars and leave the rest of us alone.

      • 0 avatar
        maxxcool7421

        Ugh. Did not consider this is another possible suicidal “push corn as fuel” grab … they’d need to blend 30% to roughly achieve 95 octane.

        $%^&kers.. congress told them no already :P sthaaap it!

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      Right on Max. As you state, it’s ridiculous to eliminate the 87 octane (at least for the foreseeable future). If high octane really is a good idea, then offer high octane and let car buyers decide if they want to buy cars that can use it effectively. Many places in the country already have 93 octane, but few people seem to see cars with high octane requirement as a beneficial feature.

      Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. Nobody wants to be the first mover here. Refiners and gas stations could move to 95 octane but would have no customers; or car buyers could buy the new engines but find out there is no gas. :-(

      So maybe if the government were to get involved in any way it should be to force refiners and gas stations to stock 95 octane (while keeping 87). Another option is to allow CAFE tests to use the higher octane stuff; that would prompt manufacturers to move right to at least 91 octane (which is seemingly available everywhere at sea level).

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        ” it’s ridiculous to eliminate the 87 octane”

        Personally, I am for one grade of gasoline: Premium. No other choice.

        That one grade should reduce the cost of refining two grades of gas and Premium will burn in low-compression engined cars but 87 may cause problems in high-compression engines.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        “Another option is to allow CAFE tests to use the higher octane stuff”

        Already happened. The EPA uses whatever octane is listed inside the gas door. The problem is that many buyers refuse to buy a car that “uses premium,” even if it saves them money.

        Both my cars have a big enough boost in gas mileage (not to mention power) with premium to offset the small added cost.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Can’t fault the automakers for this one. The mileage goalposts that Obama’s green extremists in the EPA have set are wildly out of line with market demand. That means gaming the hell out of the test to come even close to achieving those goals. Using higher test gas to marginally reduce displacement for a given power output is a gimme for the manufacturer.

    It’s just as obviously a screwjob for the consumer but under this administration we should be well and truly used to it.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I believe that the historically accurate terminology is “Nixon’s green extremists in the EPA.” He started the EPA and CAFE, back when clean air/water and economic independence were bipartisan issues.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Extending your reasoning there, I suppose the latest round of warrantless wiretapping should be credited to “Truman’s NSA.”

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          You missed the point.
          In a two party system, each party stands against stuff when they are not in power, and supports it when they are. That’s how the rhetoric works, and it’s a great way to convince the gullible to vote for you.

          The EPA’s “extremism” has historically been supported by both major political parties when in office. It’s actually quite mainstream.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Yellow skies and rivers afire were bipartisan issues, those issues were largely resolved decades ago and have no resemblance to the EPA’s work now. The EPA today is a federal sledgehammer in search of a nail and god help you when they find one.

            The new standards for mercury in coal power generation emissions which, by the EPA’s own reckoning will cost $25 billion a year for $6 million a year (as in 4000:1) in public health benefit.

            Their ongoing attempts to expand the Clean Water Act from the “navigable waters” written into the law to cover virtually every body of water in America from ditches on up.

            Declaring the carbon cycle a “pollutant.”

            Not that I think much of the putative opposition party either but I don’t remember many of these enormous expansions of federal authority taking place when the American was in office.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Don’t see a problem with setting the bar high.

      Improved fuel economy is one of the reasons why we are enjoying lower priced gas these days (along with more US/Canadian output and the Saudis not cutting back like they once would have done).

      Maybe the automakers won’t reach those milestones (maybe some will), but we’ll nonetheless, continue to see major improvements in fuel economy.

  • avatar
    redav

    “the engineers could make a few modifications to the pistons and/or cylinder heads in order to increase a given engine’s compression ratio – a process that can occur quickly with little in the way of investment or labor – to enable the use of higher-octane fuels.”
    _________________

    I think that last part should read: “to enable the benefits of higher-octane fuels.”

  • avatar
    STRATOS

    By using a higher percentage of ethanol in premium fuel ,the fuel economy gains of higher compression are partially negated by the lower energy levels of the blended fuel.Higher octane without ethanol would be preferable and eliminating 87 octane fuel .

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Maybe the US should look at it’s diesel fuel quality first.

    Also, leave the businesses with energy interest out.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    One-grade 95-octane gasoline would allow a significantly more peak power (10%+) over current 91/93 in a turbocharged car. Automakers would be able to avoid new high-performance engine architectures with a little more headroom on existing stuff.

    I’m in favor because it would probably eliminate the old 100 Low Lead (heavily leaded blue) aviation gas and would let me run pump gas in the racebike and the kart.

    There are 17 grades/types of gasoline being produced for American road use. If we were able to go down to 2 (95 octane E10 low-VOC summer, 92 octane E10 high-VOC winter) the oil companies would save money. Depending on how competitive the gasoline market actually is, it’d go to either the consumers (me) or the shareholders (me).

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Heh heh, like the proceeds from improved margins actually go to the shareholders these days.

      Well, a bit does, but for the most part the executives steal it through a merry-go-round compensation process where everyone remotely profitable has to be 75% percentile and raises their comp until they are, without meaningful shareholder input.

      Employees and consumers aren’t the only ones getting the shaft in today’s business model. Shareholders are too.

  • avatar
    jkk6

    FYI S. Korea and Japan octane ratings start at 91 if any cares.

    91 – 93 – 95

    In S. Korea so many fraud gas station owners. They put water in their gasses lol.

  • avatar
    EvilEdHarris

    OK… So here goes…

    I work at an oil refinery and turning up the octane rating is not just that simple.

    First, there are only so many gallons of high octane fuel that can be produced from a barrel of oil. As the demand, or in this case proposed requirement, for higher octane fuel increases the more expensive the refined product will become. Raising the octane requirement will then leave us with a large volume of lower octane fuel that cannot be used. That fuel would probably be somewhere in the 75-80 octane range because it would be too low for effective blending.

    But what about the Europeans you ask. Well we already export our higher octane blending products and agents to them and guess what… they pay handsomely for it. Yes we could keep those products here for ourselves, but their market (engines and infrastructure) is already designed to run on higher octane fuel.

    Long story short, you can only make so much high octane fuel out of a barrel of oil. If the government and automakers want to go this route the price of fuel will go up more than they are leading on because the world demand for high octane products is more competitive. There would also be the environmental factor of dealing with the leftover low octane fuel that can no longer be blended. (It would likely be exported to 3rd world countries and burned in vehicles with no emissions controls for a negative overall environmental impact… where instead it could continue to be burned here in a relatively environmentally friendly manner)

    If I were to sum this all up and leave you with one statement it would be:

    THERE IS A FINITE AMOUNT OF HIGH OCTANE FUEL IN A BARREL OF OIL.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I will show my age, but there were the days where one could purchase 100 octane fuel (with Lead Tetraethyl, of course) for autos.

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