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Biofuels – an alternative lower carbon solution

New engine technologies are not the only way we are working to develop cleaner vehicles. We are also looking at how we can reduce dependence on fossil fuels by producing low-carbon biofuels. Biofuels are a proven, viable energy source that can be made from many different organic sources, even waste products. They can be blended with gasoline and diesel, reducing harmful exhaust emissions.

We are researching new, sustainable sources and production methods for biofuels that do not rely on using food crops. We also make sure that these fuels achieve the kind of performance quality motorists expect from conventional petrol and diesel.

Responsible biofuel production

Biofuels can be made from a wide variety of sources. Currently most production of so-called first generation biofuels uses raw materials derived from crops. For example, sugar cane is used to make ethanol and biodiesel is produced from vegetable oil. They can be blended with gasoline or diesel, in volumes specified by European standards. Toyota and Lexus vehicles made for the European market can use gasoline blended with up to 10% bioethanol (E10, meeting standard EN228), or diesel blended with to 7% biodiesel (B7, meeting standard EN590). As we seek to use lower carbon sources, we are moving away from food crop-based biofuels to new, second generation biofuels. These are produced from waste products such as straw, or – in the longer term – even from algae. To make sure there is no negative impact on vehicle performance and customer satisfaction it is crucial that the quality of the fuel is maintained.

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Our commitment to best practice

  1. Biofuels must be produced with minimum impact on the environment. We support this through our membership of the European Biofuels Technology Platform, calling for sustainable biofuel production methods and products.
  2. Biofuel production should not compete with food production. We promote the development of second generation biofuels made from waste materials from agriculture and forestry, gradually moving away from using food crops.
  3. Biofuels should not have a negative impact on a vehicle’s performance. We support the work of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), helping to draw up common fuel standards. We also want to make sure these standards are introduced simultaneously across different national markets, to secure consistent quality and customer satisfaction.

Future research and development

We continue to invest in research into new, second generation ethanol made from wood and straw. Although we are only at an early stage in this work, we have identified potential big savings in greenhouse gases from this new fuel, which can be used in vehicles that are already on the road.

Through our work with the Alliance for Synthetic Fuels in Europe (ASFE), we are looking at bio-alternatives to diesel that can be made from a wide variety of sources, including biomass. These paraffinic fuels include Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO), which is being produced and sold commercially. HVO can be used in existing and future diesel engines, reducing their harmful emissions levels.

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