Monday, April 06, 2009

Branded fuels - do they really provide any benefits

You must have seen this all the time. You go to a fuel pump, and they ask you whether you want the premium fuel (whether it is petrol or diesel); in some cases, they will tell you that the premium fuel is better for your engine, as well as for the mileage of your vehicle. The fuel will have the name of 'Premium', 'Turbo', or 'Speed', all designed to make sure that you feel that you are taking a fuel much better than the traditional fuel. The television advertisements are all designed to project the same thing, with the fuel supposed to have additives that smoothen the engine, and deliver many other benefits.
Months back, when fuel prices were very high, the oil companies were actually forcing higher consumption of these branded fuel through greater marketing campaigns, as well as through actual constriction of supply of the non-branded fuel at the fuel pumps. So, what is the reality of these branded fuels ? Do their consistent campaigns have any real substance to them ? Does your vehicle benefit if you use such fuels ? Well, the MRTPC did a study, and found that there was no evidence to backup these claims (link to article):

Next time you pay Rs 2 extra per litre to tank up on branded petrol, you are probably being taken for a ride. For, the state-run oil marketing companies have failed to back up their claim of this fuel giving higher mileage and better engine performance before the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC). MRTPC had asked the companies to "clarify the quantitive difference between normal fuel and branded fuel alongwith supportive documents.''
The query, however, failed to get the companies to furnish anything more than letters from additive suppliers in support their claim. While the additive suppliers, the Singapore branch of Chevron and Oronite, have spoken about the benefits of branded fuel, it has failed to impress the Commission as it doesn't regard the suppliers as non-partial authority; on the contrary they are viewed as vested interests. The suppliers' certificates do not talk about any test having been carried out on branded petrol

So, the net result is that oil companies claim that these additives are being used the world over, and are from companies that provide these to fuels all over the world. However, in the absence of any proof, paying extra for these fuels is a risk that a person is taking; there is a good chance that you do not any benefit commensurate with the additional price.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:09 AM