I’m a car enthusiast first before a motoring journalist. I love driving almost all types of cars: supercars, subcompact hatchbacks, executive sedans and even big lumbering SUVs. But I recognize that resources are limited, including clean, breathable air, fossil fuels and the money in my pocket. I want to stretch these resources available to me so I can enjoy motoring far longer. So when someone tells me that they have the cleanest fuel, diesel in this case, available and priced at regular diesel fuel prices, I stand up and pay attention.
Unioil, a relatively small player in the oil, fuel and petroleum industry has come up with what it claims to be the cleanest diesel fuel available to the Philippine market. It has actually been available since February of 2012, but they have been quiet about it, only announcing its availability a few days ago until full rollout was completed. Nice of them to do so, unlike other fuel companies who make announcements but are quick to point out that full rollout will take months.
Unioil’s new fuel is rolling out a full three years ahead of the mandated Euro IV-capable fuels in 2016 as mandated by the national government, which should be sold exclusively by all petroleum and fuel retailers in lieu of older Euro II fuels.
So what’s so special about Unioil’s diesel?
Dubbed Euro Diesel IV, it is the only diesel fuel that is Euro IV-certified. Euro IV fuels are cleaner, have lower sulfur content and, crucially, emit only 50 parts per million of sulfur. That is a reduction of 90 percent compared to the current 500 parts per million offered by other fuel companies. Even the big three offer no such products directly comparable to Unioil’s. In testing, Unioil has actually seen between 20 and 30 parts per million so the 50 parts per million is a very generous guarantee.
In testing done in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Land Transportation Office of the Department of Transportation and Communications, Unioil has tested their fuel in a variety of vehicles, ranging from a previous model Ford Ranger pick-up to a current generation Toyota Hilux, an Isuzu LCV-engined jeepney (the most common and popular diesel engine for commercial jeepney/PUV assemblers) and a diesel-powered Chrysler minivan, and the results have been promising.
Not only was sulfur content in emissions lower, but all the other noxious gases and particulates from exhaust emissions were reduced by as much as an outstanding 83 percent. These are relatively new vehicles (save for the jeepney which was a few years older). Exhaust emissions are also far less dark, and since the diesel fuel has lower sulfur content, the engine will last longer because sulfur is highly corrosive to an engine’s internals as well as its pollution control devices such as the catalytic converter and the like, and the particulate filter. In theory, pollution control devices, which are very expensive to replace, and are mounted from the factory in our vehicles should last a minimum of five years. Switching to Euro Diesel IV fuel should see them last 2-3 times longer.
Euro Diesel IV also has a higher cetane rating (a measure of diesel fuel’s burn and ignition quality), which means your diesel engine will be far more fuel-efficient, will offer quieter and less vibration-prone engine operation and offer better cold-start performance (the vast majority of when engines emit the most pollution and are inefficient), which means basically your diesel engine should start with a single click and emit less dark smoke on a cold start. Current Euro II diesel fuels have a mandated cetane rating of 50, whereas the Euro Diesel IV has been tested to a cetane rating of 55, although Unioil is only guaranteeing 51.
It also has special lubricating additives to protect engines, specifically CRDi and turbocharged injection systems, making it a good match for today’s new breed of efficient and highly powerful diesel engines, with a good bias to performance. With Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW coming out with diesel-powered high-performance vehicles, this is welcome news indeed for well-heeled automotive enthusiasts and aficionados.
You can mix Euro Diesel IV with other diesel fuel types and encounter no problems, as well as on diesel vehicles older than 2006 models. But testing Unioil also suggests changing the diesel fuel filters, gaskets and o-ring seals throughout your fuel system to prevent some possible shrinkage, which can lead to leaks, a by-product of using their special fuels on older vehicles.
The best bit of news aside from being cleaner, more powerful and more efficient diesel fuel from Unioil is that the firm has not added any premium on the better product, being comparable to other non-premium diesel fuels and making it financially viable and easily accepted by every diesel fuel user: from jeepney/PUV drivers, truck and commercial vehicle operators, and private passenger car owners. Euro Diesel IV will be the sole and exclusive diesel fuel available from Unioil’s pumps.
The one downside I see is that Unioil is still slowly growing its network, but executives promised more locations over the next two-three years, making it accessible to more motorists. There are currently only 30 Unioil outlets, all in Luzon, with four more opening in the next few months.
Of their plans for next year, Luisito M. Medina-Cue, general manager for Unioil Petroleum Philippines said that next year, they plan to roll out an equivalent, premium grade, high-octane gasoline that is Euro IV-compliant as well. Exciting times indeed. Hopefully I can stretch my fuel budget further, too.