Whenever Rick Bohnen talks to a customer who just filled his or her vehicle with E15 at the Penn-Minocco station in the heart of South Minneapolis, he can’t believe their enthusiasm.
“The people who buy E15 love it. They think it’s the greatest thing ever,” Bohnen said.
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association was part of a coalition that brought E15 — a blend of 15 percent homegrown ethanol and 85 percent gasoline — to Minnesota last fall. Initially, four stations in the Twin Cities metro area installed blender pumps pumps that included E15, E30 and regular unleaded.
Now seven stations throughout Minnesota sell cleaner-burning E15, which is usually 10-20 cents less than regular unleaded and can be used in vehicles made in 2001 or after. Based on reports from station owners like Bohnen, E15 is selling well and gaining momentum with drivers.
“We’re seeing word-of-mouth starting to get out there,” said Bohnen, who estimates that E15 makes up 15-20 percent of his fuel sales.
“Overall, I think it’s going over very well. Volume sold is one thing. Enthusiasm is another. The enthusiasm of people who buy E15 is off the charts.”
About 90 miles west of Minneapolis In Willmar, E15 has been selling well at Walt’s on 1st Street. Jeff Armstrong says he hasn’t had one customer say anything negative about the fuel, but he thinks it will take some time for consumers to learn more about it.
“It’s the same category as when E85 first came out,” he said. “People are a little hesitant to put it in their vehicle at first because there’s not enough information out there about the fuel itself. Word just needs to get out there.”
If he had to do it over again, would Armstrong still bring E15 to his station?
“Yeah, we would. Definitely,” he said. “It’s been good for us.”
Joel Hennen in Shakopee — an outer-ring suburb of the Twin Cities — says his E15 sales range between 10-20 percent of total fuel sold.
“My core customers are starting to change and come around to it,” he said. “The key is still educating people.”