California’s E85-use Reaches Another Record

California’s E85-use Reaches Another Record

For the 16th time in the last 17 years, California set a new high for E85 use. The state’s motorists used 118.5 million gallons of E85 in 2023, an increase of 14% from the previous year and nearly triple what the state logged only three years prior.

The 2023 figure built on a massive surge the state saw from 2021 to 2022, when E85 gallons increased 66%. Since the California Air Resources Board began tracking E85 data in 2006, the state’s use has only dipped once: in 2020 by less than a percent.

E85 is becoming increasingly easier to find in California. Pearson Fuels, the state’s largest E85 distributor, announced earlier this year it had opened its 350th site in the state. The company is on target to reach 400 station partnerships later this year and plans to grow to 500 locations within the next 24-30 months. “With retail gasoline regularly reaching above $5 a gallon, E85 is usually priced $1.50 to $2.00 cheaper at the pump,” said Doug Vind, managing member of Pearson Fuels. “We estimate total savings in 2023 could’ve surpassed $200 million collectively for drivers who consistently chose E85 rather than gasoline.”

E85 is a renewable, biomass-based fuel for use in flex fuel vehicles (FFVs). FFVs are typically identifiable with a yellow gas cap or a “flex fuel” decal located on the vehicle. The state’s FFV population has held steady over the past several years while E85 use has skyrocketed. “California should be doing everything it can to encourage FFV owners to use E85,” Vind added. “Volumes are increasing, but we’re still somewhat constrained by our current station count. Expanding our footprint will allow more FFV owners to choose E85. More FFVs accessing E85 means we can seriously reduce petroleum consumption and realize substantial carbon reductions.”

The cleanest gallon of Pearson Fuels E85 in California is a combination of cellulosic ethanol and
renewable naphtha. That fuel has lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions nearly 80% below California
gasoline. “Greener fuel doesn’t always have to be more expensive,” Vind said. “But more people need to be able to access it.”

Media contact: Kamila Pheland, Pearson Fuels Director of Marketing and Project Development,