Payment row over ethanol car repairs

High sulphate concentrations in ethanol in the spring have damaged hundreds of car engines, setting off a dispute between car manufacturers and fuel companies as to who will pay for the repairs.

Payment row over ethanol car repairs

The problems hit many ethanol car owners in the spring. Although car manufacturers have deferred responsibility to fuel companies to foot the bill for the repairs, they in turn have refused, saying the problems are not their responsibility.

In the spring, an increasing number of ethanol cars were taken to garages with driving and starting problems. The problems appeared to be high sulphate concentrations in the ethanol clogging the fuel injector to the engine.

“There are cars that have driven flawlessly over 15 years,” said Bertil Moldén, CEO of industry organisation Bil (Car) Sweden. “Since then, fuel companies have decided to buy cheaper ethanol with higher sulphate concentrations and suddenly, 1,000 cars stop working.”

The repair bills for the car owners cost between 5,000 kronor ($683) to 15,000 kronor, according to Bil Sweden, which believes that the fuel companies should foot the bill.

However, the fuel companies insist they have not done anything wrong, according to Ulf Svahn, CEO of the Swedish Petroleum Institute. The car manufacturers have received the product they ordered, emphasised Svahn, who pointed out that no recommendations as to how much sulphate ethanol may contain exists.

Saab has chosen to replace the parts for its affected customers, as well as Ford for drivers who have a valid warranty.

“We do not think that it is a product defect, but we have done it anyway,” said Anna Müller, CEO of Ford in Sweden. “That does not mean that we agree that we shall bear the cost in the end.”

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