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US Automakers Want 95 Octane as New Regular, Other Markets Could Follow Suit

The most common grade of fuel used in Europe is 95 octane gasoline. According to industry news, US automakers want the same thing to happen in America as well. General Motors’ Vice President of Global Propulsion Systems Dan Nicholson, while testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environment subcommittee, said that the move would help “facilitate standardize engineering and manufacturing for multiple markets,” as well as become “one of the most affordable ways to boost an engine’s fuel economy.”

“We have an opportunity to play a large role in offering consumers the most affordable option for fuel economy improvement and greenhouse gas reduction,” Nicholson said as he began his case.

Currently, regular-grade gasoline stands at 87 octane. Mid-grade octane usually weighs in at 88 to 90, while premium octane is between 91 and 94. Higher octane numbers lead to higher compression ratios, which comes with the benefit of more horsepower and torque combined with better fuel efficiency.

IF GM, Ford Motor Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have their way, the USA, and perhaps the rest of the world, will soon see just one grade of fuel: 95 octane. Even though today’s premium octane costs about 3 percent more than regular, Nicholson says it would actually cost consumers significantly less, as 95 octane leads to a three-percent improvement in fuel efficiency, more than offsetting the increase in the cost of fuel.

“This will have customer value if it is done correctly. Don’t think of the premium fuel that is available today,” Nicholson said. “If it is done in the right framework, it could have a lot of value for customers at a low rate if we pick the right octane level. If you go too high, it’ll get expensive. But if you pick the right one, it’ll actually work for customers.”

“Fuels and engines have always been a system. That’s how you have to think about it. I think America deserves as good a gasoline as Europe,” Nicholson concluded.

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