August 6, 2007, 9am. Gull’s publicity coup offering its E10 ethanol blend months early was short lived. By the next day, the company had been painted as a villain rather than hero, as the media began highlighting the possibility that the fuel could “seriously damage up to a million Japanese imported vehicles”, including setting them alight.
The cautions, issued by the Motor Trade Association and some manufacturers were given such prominence that motorists may have gained an impression that the blend was downright dangerous.
Advice from such companies as Ford, Holden, Mazda and Nissan that the fuel would be fine for new and recent cars – Nissan said from January 2004 – was buried or not mentioned in some news reports.
Gull’s Force 10 ethanol blend was rolled out by the prime minister (seen with Ford New Zealand’s managing director Richard Mathieson) to meet a requirement for oil companies to ensure that by 2012 3.4 per cent of sales are biofuels.