Friday, April 14, 2006

Will E85 cut the cost of driving? Secrets revealed

This message is especially for American car makers and anyone who might influence them. As a preface, let it be known that I am a supporter of ethanol because I see its huge potential. So it is in the spirit of "tough love" that I give this warning. It costs considerably more to drive on E85 than on the usual brew in American Flex-Fuel vehicles. Official EPA mileage ratings confirm this fact. If gasoline costs $2.50 at your favorite gas station, E85 would have to cost about $1.88 in order to deliver the same cost per mile in the average American Flex-Fuel vehicle. E85 usually sells for less than gasoline, but not anywhere near this much. Furthermore, consumers are going to find out sooner or later. Most press reports do a good job of keeping this secret, and those that reveal the secret take it as an unavoidable fact of science that can't be helped. Ethanol has fewer BTU's per gallon, so it's just going to take more, the reasoning goes. End of story. If that were the end of the story, I could forgive car makers and ethanol apologists who fall back on arguments about supporting farmers and reducing dependence on foreign oil. Sure, these factors do lead some of us to use E85 even when we know it's costing us more. But eventually the truth will be revealed to the general public, a public that lends more weight to cost in making their purchasing decisions. Car makers must decide if they are truly serious about bringing E85 into the main stream. If they are, they will stop making excuses and sart making Flex-Fuel vehicles that get us as many miles down the road on E85 as they do on old-fashioned gasoline. Yes, another secret revealed! It is indeed possible and has been done. BTU's don't tell the whole story. The burning characteristics and high octane of ethanol allow it to burn with much greater efficiency in a vehicle designed with a variable compression ratio and turbo boosting. This is not just a theory. Such cars exist, including the SAAB 9-5 biopower on the roads of Sweden. Who owns SAAB? General Motors. American car makers are beginning to hint at bringing this technology to America. Those of us who know the secret should encourage them to act with all possible haste in this regard, lest the general public learns the true cost of running on E85 and turn away from it permanently in their disgust at having been duped. We do not want E85 to suffer the fate of diesel fuel by which today's fabulous, energy efficient diesel burning models are largely ignored because of past experience with the smelly, noisy, polluting models of a past era. It's hard to change a reputation once it is embedded in the psyche of millions. Has the auto industry learned this lesson? Let's hope so for the sake of our economy, environment, and energy security. -- Jeffrey Goettemoeller
Northwest Indiana News:
by Andrea Holecek -- 4/14/2006
"TRANSPORTATION: Customers look at E85 vehicles to cut gas cost"

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