Fuel names change in the EU: focus on different types of car fuels

10 September 2018 0 By Edith M.
Fuel names change in the EU: focus on different types of car fuels

As the European Union just voted for a standardization of their fuel names, we realized that too many people do not fully understand the differences between each type of fuel, they just read what’s written on their car without asking questions. Here is a recap of different types of car fuels, with information about their new European names.

What are the different types of car fuel?

Firstly, you absolutely need to make the difference between petrol and diesel, as a misfuelling could highly damage your car. Note that the type of fuel your car uses is often indicated near the fuel hole.

Diesel (Gas Oil)

Diesel fuel is the easiest to understand, as there is only one diesel type. However, it still comes in different quality levels, the three main ones being Shell V-Power, BP Ultimate and Total Excellium, according to the names of the providers.

These fuels usually offer a higher cetane rating and additional lubrication and cleaning agents, but in order to know which one of these is the best, you’ll need to try them all and check their efficiency yourself, as it depends a lot on your car and your driving habits.

Diesel pump are usually black. Note that as governments used to encourage buying diesel cars some years ago, they now realized that diesel is more harmful to the environment and start to favour Petrol more and more again.

Petrol (Benzine, Gasoline)

Petrol fuels (also call benzines or gasoline) are a bit more difficult to understand as we can distinguish 3 different types of them.

Premium unleaded – 95 RON

Despite its name – Premium –, unleaded 95 RON is actually the standard petrol sold all over the world. The term ’95 RON’ refers to the octane level of the fuel, which measures how easily the fuel will ignite inside an engine.

Premium unleaded is suitable for almost all petrol engine. Pumps are usually green.

Premium unleaded E10 – 95 RON E10

In order to lower carbon emissions, some countries have already welcomed a new type of fuel, the premium unleaded E10. It is almost the same as standard premium unleaded, but with 10% of bioethanol, a fuel made from plant crops rather than oil (see Bioethanol further) and which absorbs carbon dioxide and so reduce the harmful greenhouse gas levels emitted by tailpipes.

As for premium unleaded, pumps are usually green. Note that all petrol cars are not compatible with E10 fuel. Depending on your car manufacturer, some old cars may not be compatible. See this article for more information. According to it, some experts also think that it is less efficient than standard premium unleaded.

Super unleaded – 98 RON

Super unleaded is the highest octane petrol that is still available, also in some countries, you almost can’t find it any more, as very few engines take advantage of it. Still, high performance cars such as Japanese cars or Porsches and Ferraris require it.


LPG stands for Liquefied Petroleum Gas. It is an alternative to petrol but engines have to be specifically converted to run on it as they need an additional tank fitter. Although it is much cheaper than petrol, it also gives poorer fuel consumption.

Note also that if LPG is much cheaper, it is because the duty on it is much lower. So if everyone starts using it, governments will probably start to charge it more. For this reason, it might not stay that much cheaper. Think about it before converting your car.


CNG stands for Compressed Natural Gas and is the equivalent of LPG, but for diesel engines. It is odourless and non-corrosive and can be expected to produce 80% less ozone-forming emissions. Any gas and diesel engine can be converted.

Ethanol (or bioethanol) and biodiesel

Bioethanol is an alternative to gasoline, made from the conversion of sugar cane, corn, barley and other natural products. As some car models can run on 100% ethanol, it is more commonly used as additive (see Premium unleaded E10 above).


Biodiesel is a substitute made from sugar beet, rapeseed or palm oil and burns much cleaner than standard diesel, producing less carbon dioxide. However, continued production of this substance may result in excessive deforestation.

What are their new European names?

Since the 12th of October 2018, names of fuels in European petrol stations is meant to change. It will not entirely be replaced, but additional information will appear under the form of geometric shapes ans letters. This information will respect European standards and may even be used in neighbouring countries.

This way:

  • – Diesel changes to B7, in a square shape;
  • – Benzine 98 changes to E5, in a circle shape;
  • – Benzine 95 E10 changes to E10, in a circle shape;
  • – LPG stays LPG, in a diamond shape.
  • – Raw benzine 95 should start to disappear as it is too harmful for the environment.

Basically, circle shapes will indicate unleaded.