E85, Automakers and Bush

The United States automaker chief executives met with and further pushed President George Bush to back incentives bringing e85 ethanol and biodiesel to more gas stations across the country. The automotive companies examined their output of the newest flex-fuel vehicles.

In five years, half the cars made by General Motors, Chrysler and Ford Motor company, would be capable to run on biodiesel or E85, the automotive executives explained.

The meeting with President Bush in Washington DC was for the second time in about 16 weeks that Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan R. Mulally of Ford and Thomas W. LaSorda of Chrysler urged President Bush to expand access to more and more biofuels. The automaker executives wanted that over the proposed stricter fuel economy as a way to cut America’s oil use.

“If the goal is to reduce oil imports and improve the environment, the opportunity is first of all in ethanol, biodiesel,” Wagoner explained to reporters after the summit. They spent almost no time at all conversing about mileage, he said.

The United States of America has over six million flex-fuel vehicles on the roads, but of the country’s 170,000 gas stations we only have 2,000 E85 or biodiesel pumps, they added.

“We are willing to lead the way,” the automakers’ stated. “We need government and fuel providers to increase infrastructure before we can make a meaningful impact.”

President Bush did not comment publicly to biofuel incentives. America’s ethanol producers, made mainly from corn, receive a tax credits of 51 cents per gallon. They also receive a 54 cent tariff on every gallon of ethanol that is imported. Flex-fuel vehicle automakers get a credit that lets them increase their automobile’s fuel economy.

Putting E85 stations within five miles of American motorists would require at a minimum of 20,000 pumps, Phil Lampert says, the director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition based in Jefferson City, Missouri.

President Bush is calling for a 20% cut in American’s oil consumption within a decade, 75% of that figure factors using alternative fuels, and the rest of the 25% will be attributed to better vehicle fuel economy.

E85 Ethanol and Vintage Cars

A question was recently asked if someone should, or could, use E85 fuel in a 1972 gasoline collector’s car.

The short answer is, no. E85 ethanol is a very poor idea to use in vintage cars.

A mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gas, E85 ethanol, should not be consumed by any vehicle unless it is designated at the manufacturer as a “flex-fuel” vehicle. If you use E85 in a strictly gasoline car, not just a vintage collectible car, it may damage it beyond repair. E85 ethanol in a vehicle that is not made for e85 can cause major corrosion through out the entire fuel system, crack seals and hoses and it can remove lubrication off the engine’s cylinders. Also, both the E85 ethanol and widely available E10 ethanol will move old sludge buildup, varnish and other dirts from the fuel tank. As soon as these are within the fuel, it will cause fuel line and filter clogging as well as prohibit fuel injectors and carburetor jets from spraying correctly.

Despite its higher octane number, e85 ethanol has less energy then gasoline per gallon. In the industry, it has become a well-known fact that E85 in a “flex-fuel” vehicle capable of using gasoline. E85, will provide less miles per gallon compared to gasoline (Ethanol industry generally estimates it to be about a 30% drop).

e85 fuel stations

With gas prices on the way back up for this summer, now is not a bad time to consider buying a flex-fuel car or perhaps consider an after market conversion kit. For more information on this, view the flex fuel conversion post. Currently there are 1,158 e85 gas stations in 40 states excluding Washington DC in the United States. In the table below, check to see how many e85 gas stations are in your state.

e85 fuel stations
Alabama1Iowa60Minnesota307New York6Virginia5
California4Indiana81Montana1Pennsylvania10West Virginia2
Colorado17Kansas19North Carolina12South Carolina42Wyoming5
District of Columbia2Kentucky4North Dakota25South Dakota56  
Florida12Maryland5New Mexico5Texas33