Over the following weeks, we may be hearing a lot of news about European drivers mixing up their fuels. That’s because as of Friday, gasoline (or petrol, as they call it) will no longer be gasoline, and diesel will no longer be diesel. At the pump, at least.
All the 28 member states of the Union will be forced to rename their fuels at the pump starting this week, in a bid to comply with a new standardization system decided by the European Parliament. This standard was meant to create unified labeling across the Union so that drivers don’t get confused when traveling in foreign countries.
So, as of now, gasoline will be labeled E, followed by a number (depending on the type), diesel will become B, also followed by a number, while gaseous fuels will have to mention their specific fuel type - CNG, LNG, LPG, and H2.
Now, there is some logic behind the strange letters chosen by the EU. For gasoline, E is supposed to stand for the ethanol present in the fuels. Unfortunately, E is also the preferred letter chosen by automakers for a number of their electric technologies, including car models.
There is, of course, no chance of someone expecting electricity to flow out of a fuel pump, but so many Es in the industry are bound to create confusion.
The biggest problem, however, comes with the designation for diesel. The EU justification for choosing B for naming the fuel is that it stands for specific biodiesel components present in the fuel– as a side note, synthetic diesel will be labeled XTL.
In a number of European countries, it is gasoline that is spelled with a B, not diesel. In German and Hungarian, for instance, the word for gasoline is benzin. In Romanian, benzina, in Polish benzyna, and so on.
One could easily imagine drivers of gasoline-powered cars flocking to the pumps labeled B, believing they’re lining up to the correct pump when in reality they would be queuing up for diesel.
So, if you live in the EU, or planning to make a trip there and don’t want your day ruined, take a look at the official EU document attached below.