General Motors, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles descended on Capitol Hill to lobby for standardized 95 octane to replace today’s 87 octane. GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems, Dan Nicholson, led the argument for increasing the Research Octane Number (RON) and said consumers and automakers would all benefit, Automotive News reported on Tuesday.
It’s not the first time GM and Nicholson have argued for standard high-octane fuel. Nicholson first floated the idea last year, and last month, the executive pitched benefits to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) in an address. Nicholson said the time to make the switch is now as automakers experiment with ways to squeeze every ounce of efficiency from the internal-combustion engine.
Moving to 95 RON would eliminate 87 octane as regular, 88-90 for mid-grade and 91-94 for premium. Nicholson’s main argument is that the fuel efficiency benefits outweigh the extra cost per gallon of 95 octane. He said a 3 percent increase in fuel economy would come at a cost of less than 3 percent increase in the cost of gasoline.
“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,” he told the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environment subcommittee. He said to throw out what consumers think of when looking at prices for premium gasoline today.
Another argument on the cost side is that refineries would shift output to 95 octane and ultimately lower the price with greater supply.
In the end, higher octane fuel would allow automakers to raise engine compression ratios to increase horsepower, torque and efficiency all at once.