Is RON 100 Petrol Worth The Price Premium?

On 15 January 2016, Petron Malaysia launched their RON 100 Euro 4M fuel – the Petron Blaze 100. This is an unregulated petrol grade that costs RM 2.80 (~US$ 0.65) per litre (as of its launch on the 15th of January 2016). In comparison, the RON 97 grade costs RM 2.25 (~US$ 0.52) per litre while the RON 95 grade costs RM 1.95 (~US$ 0.45).

RON 100 Madness - Stop Fuelling The Myth!

In other words, those who use this new RON 100 petrol are paying a 24.4% premium over RON 97 and a 43.6% premium over RON 95. So the question is – is it worth paying so much for RON 100? The argument always boils down to this claim that :

Higher RON fuels deliver better performance and better fuel efficiency.

Inevitably, this launched a debate in kopitiams and Facebook about whether that is true, and if it’s true – whether it’s worth paying so much for better performance and/or fuel efficiency? This is what we will discuss today and hopefully “settle” the debate once and for all… Well, we can try! 😀

 

More Science, Less Feelings Please…

Now, I’m not a car guy. You won’t catch me with a spanner, a wrench or whatever you need to fix up or pimp your ride. Told you I wasn’t a car guy. 😀

But I am a SCIENCE guy. That means I don’t just believe everything I read on the Internet, even if it’s written by a reputable car publication. I will check and verify if what they said is logical and factual. More so if it’s something posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Needless to say, “feelings” do not matter to me. I give absolutely ZERO credence to anyone who tells me that the car “feels” smoother or more powerful using RON xxx fuel. What matters are the cold, hard facts. Let’s split the claim into two smaller questions :

Does a higher octane rating give your car better performance?

Does a higher octane rating give your car better fuel efficiency?

We just wrote a 2-page piece on this very subject at Tech ARP, demonstrating why a higher octane rating will not deliver better performance simply because of its higher octane rating. You can take a look at it here.

In that article, we also pointed out that higher octane fuels can deliver better performance through a heavier fuel blend. In this article, we will look instead at whether it’s worth paying so much for a heavier fuel blend.

 

Is RON 100 Value For Money?

Frankly, we have no idea whether the Petron RON 100 Euro 4M petrol is even using a heavier fuel blend, much less how much heavier its fuel blend is. Fuel blends can vary by up to 4% either way, compared to the average. So the variance is 8% at most.

If we look at these BP fuel energy density figures, courtesy of Car Bibles, we can see that even the BP Ultimate fuel has a 2.3% heavier blend than the regular grade at best  :

Fuel GradeEnergy DensityDifference
BP Regular32.53 MJ/LBaseline
BP Premium33.08 MJ/L+ 1.7%
BP Ultimate33.28 MJ/L+ 2.3%

Let’s just go with the best case scenario and assume that Petron uses an 8% heavier fuel blend in their RON 100 fuel. Even so, this will not translate into 8% better performance.

Remember – 70%-75% of the energy generated in the combustion is lost as heat. Only 25%-30% is actually used to drive your car. So what you really get, at most, is a 2.4% boost in performance.

To answer the question of whether it’s worth paying so much money for RON 100, we prepared a table to better illustrate the value proposition :

Petrol GradeRM Per Litre
(January 2016)
Energy Density DifferencePerformance DifferenceValue Difference
(vs RON 95)
Value Difference
(vs RON 97)
RON 95RM 1.95 (~US$ 0.45)BaselineBaselineBaseline-
RON 97RM 2.25 (~US$ 0.52)BaselineBaseline-Baseline
Petron RON 100RM 2.80 (~US$ 0.65)+ 8% (best case)+ 2.4% (estimated)Overpriced by 40.2%Overpriced by 21.5%

As you can see, RON 100 petrol commands a massive price difference that hardly justifies the small boost in performance it may offer. Can you really feel 2.4% additional power output? More importantly, is it worth paying 20%-40% extra for that 2.4% boost in power? You decide.

IMHO, if your car does not require or is specifically tuned for RON 100, there is no reason for you to waste money using RON 100.

 

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  1. Pingback: The Higher Octane Rating Myth Debunked - Tech ARP

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