E15 damages Nissan vehicles

ZIMBABWEANS driving Nissan vehicles risk having their cars damaged following government’s decision to increase blending of ethanol with unleaded petrol from 10% (E10) to 15% (E15) despite car manufacturers and assemblers warning they would not have warranty for vehicles which could be affected by the fuel harmful to certain models.

Owen Gagare

This has deepened controversy surrounding the mandatory blending of fuel consisting of 15% ethanol and 85% unleaded petrol. Car manufacturers say the blending should not exceed 10% ethanol as that will damage mostly Nissan cars.

Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) CEO Gloria Magombo announced mandatory blending to E15 with effect from last Saturday. Fuel wholesalers and retailers were given up to 10 days to clear their current stocks after which they are expected to comply with the new regulations.

The increase in ethanol blending came after Zera wrote to car manufacturing and assembly companies requesting feedback on the impact of increasing blending of ethanol and unleaded fuel by 10%, 15% and then 20%.

Sources said most car dealers were uncomfortable with this as some warned an increase in ethanol content would be harmful to vehicles. Ethanol is corrosive.

A letter from Nissan Zimbabwe addressed to Magombo, dated November 8 2013, a copy of which is in the possession of Zimbabwe Independent, says locally assembled Nissan cars could only take a maximum of E10.

“Reference is made to your communication of the 19th of September, where you were requesting feedback on the possible impact of 15 and 20% ethanol ratios blending on the gasolene vehicles supplied locally by Nissan Zimbabwe,” reads part of the letter, written by Nissan Zimbabwe’s after-sales manager Mehluli Khumalo.

“Kindly note that consultations have been made with Nissan Technical Centre Africa (NTCAF) and the following is the summary on the findings after intensive studies on different engines already distributed locally:

Nissan vehicles are designed to take a maximum 10% ethanol blended gasolene ONLY. If this percentage is exceeded, Nissan products will have to have most fuel injection components changed and various rubber components installed into the fuel systems redesigning them to cater for a higher ethanol blend;

Any use of ethanol blend higher than 10% will render all Nissan products fuel systems UNWARRANTABLE;

As a mitigatory measure, every unit will need to be covered by a very costly field fix which will take a long time to institute as this will involve redesigning the different components of the different models for the units to be able to cater for the higher ethanol blend, and Nissan Zimbabwe therefore requests Zera to ensure that the existing fleet will have access to fuel with a maximum of strictly 10% ethanol for future success operation.”

Magombo confirmed to the Independent this week some car dealers were against an increase in blending, but said there was nothing Zera could do as it was implementing government policy.

“We received the letters you are talking about as part of (the) consultation process, but the government has already taken a policy position on the issue.The government makes policy and we are there just to implement and advise,” she said. “After our consultations, we compiled a report to the ministry and made recommendations and whatever we received from the manufacturers was forwarded to the government. I suggest you speak to the government because they are the policymakers.”

Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire could not be reached for comment.

Lilian Muungani, the spokesperson for Green Fuel which produces the ethanol for fuel blending, referred questions to Zera.

A government official, however, said authorities were pushing hard for an increased use of blended fuel as part of efforts to reduce the country’s importation bill. Zimbabwe consumes an average of 1,5 million litres of petrol a day, but consumption continues to rise owing to an increase in cheap car imports, especially from Japan. Zera recently said fuel blending had resulted in the country saving about US$4 million every month.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said her organisation understands the need for fuel blending as it helps reduce the country’s importation bill at a time a severe liquidity crunch is gripping the country.

“It’s something that has been adopted as a policy by the government so that we can reduce our import bill. Whatever we save can be used in other sectors such as education and health so this can be beneficial,” she said. “But if there are concerns from reputable organisations and individuals, then there should be more dialogue. We had discussions on E10 and it’s important for discussions to be held on E15 because we don’t want motorists to be disadvantaged.”

Zera announced mandatory blending of fuel ethanol at the level of 5% ethanol and 95% unleaded petrol on August 15, following the issuance of an ethanol production (mandatory blending) licence to Green Fuel on August 5. The announcement was made two weeks after the July 31 elections, but during the inclusive government era, then Energy minister Elton Mangoma resisted the project, arguing motorists should have a right to choose the fuel they want to use.

26 thoughts on “E15 damages Nissan vehicles”

  1. rhodes says:

    nyika ino iripatight with such kind of personnel leading the organisations. they advise the gvt not on an take it or leave it basis but on technical issues that can affect a whole country. gvt should be protecting its citizens not choking them with lies which are beneficial to one person Rottenbauch alone. we need serious thinking here guys and mr minister ur job is to do want the people want not what the gvt wants. from all the people whi answered the journo’s questions its all about what gvt wants not to be done has to be done not the other way round. CCZ is not even showing that they represent the people here but concerned with gvt saving which they dont know where the money is going to. tiripanguva yakaoma. mwari pindirai.

  2. tirivavi says:

    Zanu PF approach to governance has always been high handed. Always policy is implemented in terms of do and don’t, a matter of coercion. This is a very stupid way of operating and leads to unfair policies. It would have been better if the tax regime on fuel was graded in a way which encourages the use of higher blended fuels while at the same time still allowing for people with cars which cannot take blended fuel to still operate their vehicles but contribute more to treasury to mitigate against their higher import bill requirement. With current policies where there is a monopoly on ethanol production, their policies appear self serving for a few individuals.

    1. tafataona says:

      Can only agree with you

  3. godfrey gudo says:

    Nissan cannot hold the whole country to ransom. Blending is not unique to Zimbabwe – it is the in thing. They can shut down their plant coz we dont care.

    1. Chen Chikezha says:


      1. Ras says:

        Once a baboon always a baboon.

    2. tafataona says:

      Such thinking is counterproductive. People have a right to choose

    3. Farai says:

      Godfrey Gudo uri gudo chairo; you don’t own a vehicle but wajaira kukwira dzemisangano yenyu yadai kuuraya nyika. A real fool; idiot and i repeat

  4. Darlingmawo says:



    The following information outlines the key reasons why vehicle manufacturers do not recommend the use of any ethanol/petrol blended fuels in vehicles made before 1986. This information is also applicable to post-1986 vehicles listed as unsuitable to use ethanol blended petrol.

    Ethanol has a number of important chemical and physical properties that need to be considered in a vehicle’s design.

    Carburettor Equipped Engines

    Vehicles made before 1986 vehicles were predominantly equipped with carburettors and steel fuel tanks.

    The use of ethanol blended petrol in engines impacts the air/fuel ratio because of the additional oxygen molecules within the ethanol’s chemical structure.

    Vehicles with carburettor fuel systems may experience hot fuel handling concerns. This is because the vapour pressure of fuel with ethanol will be greater (if the base fuel is not chemically adjusted) and probability of vapour lock or hot restartability problems will be increased.

    As a solvent, ethanol attacks both the metallic and rubber based fuels lines, and other fuel system components.

    Ethanol also has an affinity to water that can result in corrosion of fuel tanks and fuel lines. Rust resulting from this corrosion can ultimately block the fuel supply rendering the engine inoperable. Water in the fuel system can also result in the engine hesitating and running roughly.

    Fuel Injected Engines

    In addition to the issues mentioned above for carburettor equipped engines, the use of ethanol blended petrol in fuel injection systems will result in early deterioration of components such as injector seals, delivery pipes, and fuel pump and regulator.

    Mechanical fuel injection systems and earlier electronic systems may not be able to fully compensate for the lean-out effect of ethanol blended petrol, resulting in hesitation or flat-spots during acceleration.

    Difficulty in starting and engine hesitation after cold start can also result.

    Exhaust And Evaporative Emission Levels

    Lean-out resulting from the oxygenating effect of ethanol in the fuel may affect exhaust emissions.

    Of more concern is that fuel containing ethanol can increase permeation emissions from fuel system components, particularly those that have aged for nearly 20 years. Therefore the increased vapour pressure of fuel with ethanol (if the base fuel is not chemically adjusted at the refining stage) will lead to increased evaporative emissions.

    1. magame says:

      I have reason to believe that blending is also a rip off to customers bcoz of the reduced fuel efficiency of ‘diluted fuel’. The price reduction if insufficient to cover for lower fuel efficiency. In short we are getting less mileage from this fuelalbeit at a slightly reduced cost.

    2. magame says:

      I have reason to believe that blending is also a rip off to customers bcoz of the reduced fuel efficiency of ‘diluted fuel’. The price reduction if insufficient to cover for lower fuel efficiency. In short we are getting less mileage from this fuel albeit at a slightly reduced cost.

  5. Boorangoma says:

    The ZANU PF dictatorship is forcing motorists to use Billy Rautenbach’s fuel as a way to enrich themselves and their friend and sponsor (Rautenbach). Next time all people will be forced to drink Gushungo milk!

  6. respect m says:

    that’s wayward thinking. yiu think it’s Nissan only???just wait until you Merc starts coughing.

  7. Goreraza says:

    I doubt Gudo undestands the issues here. Which plant should the shut down? in Japan? because poor zimbabwe cant have clean fuel so they must shut down their plant? The issue is about the blending being higher than whats already desinged for the nehicles on the ground now. And they have also said what can be done to mitigate that IN THE FUTURE although it is very costly and probably not supportable. Funga please.

  8. Tronex says:

    Lazy reporter. Just reproduced that response from Nissan. What about other types of vehicles??

  9. Blair says:

    Why should we have just one type of petrol? Why force the product on the market? Other African countries have various types of petrol e.g. Leaded and Unleaded 97- 95- or 93- octane (super or premium), you choose which fuel you want depending on the type of engine or money you have. Besides the price of this ethanol blended fuel has not really gone down as we expected. There has to be a noticeable reduction of the price of this fuel otherwise there was no need to ban the unleaded fuel because if people really liked the blended fuel, they would just buy it without being forced.

  10. chana chatete says:

    Vana Tronex, if you were to become a journalist, I bet you wouldnt write even 1 article. This guys gave Nissan as an example. And besides, I feel this blending thing has a hidden agenda on the part of the gvt. Is that ethanol plant a parastatal? Is it a gvt project? If not, why then is it mandatory for motorists to use ethanol fuel from the plant? I feel there are big guys who are benefitting from milking the poor citizen. Even what is being purported to be saved coz of the blending, is obviously gonna go int some individuals’ pockets not what the CCZ person is saying —- Too much of a monopoly, do or dont… As a motorist, I must be given a choice to make on the type of fuel I need. If unblended fuel is to cost higher than blended, let it be so but still as a citizen, I retain the right to choose what I want than to be forced.

    Where are we going as ZIM?

    1. Tronex says:

      I guess you are the writer of this article yourself!! My point is, the writer could have done more justice to the issue by finding out the opinion of other veicle manufacturers. Where did I justify the issue of E15. The headline is misleading cuase other makes are also affected by this type of fuel. The journalist (or is it you) is just lazy, he shoudl have researched more on this issue

  11. tirivavi says:

    I will be buying a diesel engine car from now on. But veZanu nevudofo bgavo vangangotikaurisa and demand mandatory blending for that too. Even planes will have mandatory blending if we let the government do as they please

  12. We need to go green and save foreign currency, those who are protesting are doing so through ignorance.We should look beyond personalities and see the economics and relevance of the 15% blend.

    Do you we real need those 1986 nissan sunny vehicle on our roads?

    Arda and Rautenbach are in a joint venture and the Chisumbanje project is a national project.

    1. rhodes says:

      a national project forced on people is very bad at all cost. let the people choose what they want not force people to buy the ethanol fuel in the name of national project at whose benefit? avail all the fuel and people will choose from there. brazil produces a lot of it but unleaded fuel is there on their market. this one size fits all way of thinking is taking the country backward. action is always better than reaction. on the case of vthis lazy reporter i think akawaniswa basa nasekuru. he should ve engaged all vehicle importers and hear their recommendations on the E15 blend than just reporting on nissan vehicles only, this causes unnecessary anxiety on the people who own the nissan vehicles which uses petrol.

    2. Farai says:

      Edmore you fool.

  13. Ras says:

    Once a baboon always a baboon.

  14. skuzapo says:

    This green fuel thing must be made to compete with all other fuel types available on the market on an even playing field, if their product is as good as they say, then all these other fuels will die a natural death through market forces without anyone having to compel the market to use it. The idea of forcing motorists to use a product that has been known to have adverse effects on our vehicles is obviously ill advised.

  15. tonderai says:

    Guys lets not just comment kana tisingaziwi;Kana usina mota dont be jealous neanayo huntie! Makudo ngaagare musango please! Vana mbuzana vanoti economics musingadziziwe nyararai.To start with, E10 WORSE E15 is not economic because mukadzi wangu andiudza nhasi chaiye kuti USD 20 yaakadira zuro yakapera yet before this type of fuel, at the same cost aifanira kudira on Sat. Some motorist have even complained kuti the E10 inokasira kupera wodirazve dzarasika economics apa! Chepiri, inonzi Government project is a project where returns go back to treasury wazwa and is run through ministries not zvirikuitika paChisumbanje NO NO. In a Government project, its people who raise issues and the Government respond positively. In the case yeChisumbanje its ethanol forced on the market at the same prices.Chiita research uone kuti the price should have gone down given that ethanol inonzi its around 0.66cents a litre or something! Lets have positive criticism anhu woye. Zvino ukati lets shut their plant uchiri kufunga kwadi kwadi here? Bva gara hako musango plz potse masango uchaashaya nekuti munda wakati utore kwakutema miti uchitsvaka huni dzekugota nekubika hino uchagara payi?Going green dyara miti, usateme miti not kungoti lets go green pasina kana muti wawakadyara besides goin gree is more efficient to talk about kuri kurimwa fodya uko-enda unoona zvaitwa miti!

  16. citizen says:

    Arda should be growing food for hungry people not wasting irrigated land on low grade fuel supplements.

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