"Make customers by choice instead of customers by accident:" Propel Fuels CEO

April 21, 2011 |

At the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference, Propel Fuels CEO Matt Horton said that “we have to stop thinking like a renewable additive industry, and start thinking like fuel companies”.

He noted that the vast majority of renewable fuels are blended with gasoline, offering no control or choice to the customer, and that the education received by most customers consisted only of the warning label marked “may contain up to 10% ethanol” at the fuel pump. Horton noted that “we have been protected by E10 ethanol blending mandates, and have not invested in developing markets for renewable fuels.”

Horton added that while there were, on average, 1500 passenger cars per US fuel station, there are 3600 flex-fuel vehicles per E85 pump, and more than 7600 flex-fuel vehicles per E85 pump in California, the largest US market.

He noted that 60 percent of E85 pumps were located in Midwestern states that have only 20 percent of the flex-fuel market. He said that the industry had reached the E10 blend wall, progress on E15 would be slow and uncertain, and that more than 20 billion gallons of fuel that is mandated under the Renewable Fuel Standard would have to be delivered outside of E10 blending.

Horton said that the days when “you could put a fuel pump at the back of a building and people will seek you out,” were over, and said that advanced thinking on the renewable fuel experience, from pump design to “great customer service” was key to “making customers by choice instead of customers by accident.”

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