Ethanol – the best alternative fuel according to GM

In November of 2007, General Motors updated a report on a benefit to cost analysis for E85 ethanol, saying the report did not take into account many positive factors.

GM said it issued the change in response to a report made earlier in USA Today that proclaims ethanol E85 fuel loses its cost-benefit to diesel.

According to Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s Chief Economist, explained in a statement, “We believe ethanol as a renewable fuel is the best near-term alternative to oil as a transportation fuel and replacing gasoline with ethanol positively contributes to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

As of now, less than 1% of gas stations in the United States of America offer E85, and prices can vary greatly. Some fueling stations charge the same price for E85 ethanol as they do for gasoline, so when gas prices go up or down, E85 follows as well. In other parts of the country, predominantly in regions such as the corn belt where ethanol fuels are more easily attainable, the cost for E85 is usually about a dollar cheaper then regular gas.

According to GM, they are currently producing around 400,000 E85 flex-fuel model cars per year and that number will double that to 800,000 by 2010. GM hopes to produce more than 2 million FlexFuel automobiles by the year 2012.

GM also went on to say that aside from building the fleet of cars, they are also committed to help build everything necessary for ethanol to catch on.

ecoFLEX in GM Europe

General Motor’s European company announced on Friday that they will be pushing to have its main production line more environmentally friendly. GM says it would place cleaner engines in traditional cars and provide many more cars that can utilize e85 ethanol.

GM named the plan ecoFLEX and said it would provide an ecoFLEX variation with lower emissions in each production of cars, starting with the 2008 Opel Corsa 1. 3 CDTI from its European brand.

The automobile will breathe 119 grams per kilogram of carbon dioxide, which is under the proposed EU median measure of 130 grams per kilogram. An important goal for GM to work towards will be to develop vehicles with the same operation standards and that cost the same as other traditional vehicles.

Saab, a Swedish brand that is also owned by GM, would too enlarge its scope of biofuel engines. GM’s luxury brand Cadillac will also provide an example of an E85 engine by the end of 2007.

GM said they would pay more attention on environmental concerns with many technologies instead of just using only one. GM said they were moving forward in creating automobiles that operate on hydrogen fuel cells, while new technology could merely better the operation of current gasoline buring engines.

One instance was Eco-Turbo engines that take smaller cylinder displacements but develop equal ability and efficiency via turbocharging the engine.

GM Europe said it would produce 16 original GM Europe engine families and 10 original transmissions by the year of 2012.

e85 gains strength as gas prices soar

Most consumers will know E85 is a blend of gas and ethanol. It consists of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol, hence the name, e85. Today, most of the ethanol used in the United States is produced by America’s corn farmers. How many automobiles on the roads can use E85? Perhaps the number is more than you may think.

Eric Escudero a spokesperson of Colorado’s AAA, “6 million vehicles on the road are flex fuel vehicles. Especially General Motors and Ford manufactured vehicles.” GM estimates that they have approximately 2 million flex fuel vehicles driving on U.S. roads and there are another 4 million flex fuel cars on the roads by other manufacturers.

“All you have to do is check on the gas cap on the owners manual, you might have the option of using E85,” Escudero proclaims. Ethanol has less energy than pure gasoline. Because of this, there is about a 10-15 percent drop in fuel economy of the vehicle. AAA says that the percentage may be even higher. “It’s about 30 percent less efficient, so you’re not getting as good gas mileage.” If the price of ethanol is lower it absolutely makes sense.

The American ethanol industry is expected to produce about 6 billion gallons of E85 fuel, this year. Currently, American consumers use almost 390 million gallons every single day. Ethanol, however, is still just a small drop in the barrel of oil. As gas prices go through the ceiling and more ethanol is produced, it has the chance to become more popular.

Follow this link for this year’s list of flex-fuel cars