Mercedes Benz U-turn on B10

KUALA LUMPUR: Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM), having earlier raised concerns that its diesel makes will not be able to use B10 biodiesel, has now made an about turn.

In a statement yesterday, MBM declared Malaysia's B10 biodiesel full compatibility is strictly confined to cars that are officially distributed by itself and it cannot say for sure for parallel imported Mercerdes Benz.

MBM president and chief executive Roland Folger said: After initially stating that the B10 biodiesel blend required further consideration, we are now pleased to inform our customers that the B10 biodesel is suitable for all diesel vehicles sold by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia.”

Folger explained that the company has carefully evaluated the influence of B10 biodiesel in their current diesel vehicles and found that the cars ran smoothly and safely without showing premature component wear. 

The service interval for diesel models is also kept at 12,000 km. 

"That said, the B10 biodiesel compatibility is only for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, whereas the Fuso truck range remains incompatible," he added.

Last month, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas announced raising the biodiesel mandate from B7 to B10 in October 2015.

The B10 biodiesel blend is made up of 10 per cent palm methyl ester and 90 per cent petroleum diesel. Production of the biodiesel will see an increase in domestic consumption of palm oil to a million tonnes annually.

Following the government's announcement to raise biodiesel mandate, BMW Group Malaysia protested and said its tests worldwide have found “technical challenges” running the B10 biodiesel blend in engines. 

In response, the Malaysia Palm Oil Council (MPOC) chief executive officer Tan Sri Yusof Basiron issued a couple of tweets. 

The first tweet stated "Not aware of BMW conducting palm biodiesel trials on cars in Malaysia. Their statement on B10 as not suitable may not be backed by science."

And his second tweet stated "BMW Malaysia need to show the results of their trials on using palm biodiesel on cars in Malaysia. Trials using other oils are not relevant."

Despite palm oil industry leader (MPOC) questioning BMW Malaysia's motive in protesting against Malaysia's national agenda of B10, other carmakers like Toyota and Isuzu went on to echo the same sentiment as BMW Malaysia.

Volkswagen Group Malaysia even claimed that running B10 on its diesel engines will have adverse effects as well as void the warranty. Mercedes-Benz urged the Malaysian government to reconsider implementation of the B10 biodiesel policy. 

In a separate interview with Business Times, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd group president and chief executive Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah pledge full support to MPOC.

"We ourselves at FGV have been using B30, which is of a higher biodiesel blend, in our fleet of 100 Volvo trucks for six months. So far, there are no engine problems. We fully support MPOC statements and the government's policy in raising the biodiesel blend to B10 from October 2015," Emir said.