A bi-partisan group of US Senators—Dick Lugar (R-IN), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Barack Obama (D-IL)—have introduced a bill that would require all US-marketed gasoline-powered vehicles to be Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) within ten years.
The Fuel Security and Consumer Choice Act (S.1994) would require 10% of vehicles sold in the US be FFVs capable of using either gasoline or ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85) within 18 months of passage.
Our addiction to oil is most acute in the U.S. transportation sector where a stunning ninety-seven percent of our fuel comes from petroleum—97 percent. In the electricity sector we have largely turned away from oil but not so in transportation.
In Brazil, all new vehicles on the road are expected to be flex-fuel-ready by 2008—meaning every new vehicle owner will have the choice to fill up with gasoline, ethanol, or a combination of the two. If the Brazilians can do it, why can't we?—Senator Harkin, sponsor S. 1994
The legislation also establishes an FFV credit market, allowing automakers who exceed minimum requirements for making flex-fuel vehicle to sell credits to other automobile manufacturers.
The bill would leave intact the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) credits for FFV production, but it changes the way the credits are calculated for vehicles produced above the required percentages.
Rather than keeping the assumption that the vehicle runs 50 percent of the time on fuel like E85, which isn’t an appropriate figure since most don’t run yet on E85, we phase-down the assumed use from 50 percent in the first model year the requirement applies to 30 percent in the second year, 10 percent the third year, and 0 percent thereafter. This should still spur interest among automakers in the early years of the requirement to go beyond the minimum FFV production levels outlined in the bill to get the extra credits. And in the meantime the FFV requirement is kicking in and the ramp up of FFVs won’t dilute or weaken CAFE.—Sen. Harkin
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.