Topeka Hy-Vee adds non-ethanol gas option

Source: By Megan Hart, The Topeka Capital Journal • Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014

Customers confused by different options

Topeka's HyVee is offering gas that doesn't include ethanol, replacing a mid-grade blend that was in low demand.  APRIL 2014 FILE PHOTO/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Topeka’s HyVee is offering gas that doesn’t include ethanol, replacing a mid-grade blend that was in low demand.

Hy-Vee’s Wanamaker Road location has begun offering gas without ethanol in response to demand, store officials said.

Store director Jesse Thorson said they did some research after getting customer requests for ethanol-free gasoline and found not many places around Topeka sold it.

“We found there’s basically nobody on this side of town that has the no-ethanol gas,” he said.

Gasoline blends using up to 10 percent ethanol are approved for use in all modern cars. Owners of antique cars sometimes seek out non-ethanol gasoline, however, if they haven’t been rebuilt with modern engines.

Only certain cars have engines designed to use blends of up to 15 percent ethanol, which are common in some countries but haven’t taken off in the U.S. Gas stations don’t usually mark 10-percent blends, but mark 15-percent ones because relatively few cars can use them.

Thorson said most of the people using non-ethanol gasoline do so out of personal preference, though others use it to fill lawnmowers and snowblowers. Blends of up to 10 percent ethanol are approved for small engines, but some mechanics say the ethanol attracts moisture and can gum up the works.

Most people still are buying the ethanol blend of 87 octane gas, commonly known as “regular” fuel, Thorson said. The non-ethanol gasoline replaced the mid-grade ethanol blend, which few people bought, he said.

“It was very, very low demand,” he said.

Thorson said store officials also had “toyed” with the idea of replacing the premium ethanol blend with premium non-ethanol gas, but the cost would likely be too high for most customers.

Gasoline without ethanol blended in is more expensive, Thorson said, and some people were upset because they thought they were buying ethanol-free fuel before for far less. What actually happened was that Hy-Vee previously only sold blended fuels at its Wanamaker Road location, so people bought the cheaper ethanol blend without thinking about it, he said.

“Most people thought the fuel they had put in their car was an ethanol-free product and were disgusted we had raised the price,” he said. “They were slightly confused.”