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Ford Announces “Midwest Ethanol Corridor” and Hybrid Taxis for Chicago

At the Chicago Auto Show, Ford Motor Company said that it will launch the beginnings of a “Midwest Ethanol Corridor”—expanding E85 ethanol fuel availability in Illinois and Missouri this year by about one-third via its ongoing partnership with VeraSun Energy. The company is planning actions to increase the availability of ethanol in neighboring states as well.

GM had earlier announced a partnership with VeraSun and Shell that will bring 26 E85 pumps to the greater Chicago area. (Earlier post.)

The first phase in the creation of the Midwest Ethanol Corridor is to convert approximately 40 existing gasoline fuel pumps in Illinois and Missouri to E85. Ford estimates there are 50,000 owners of Ford flexible fuel vehicles (FFV) in Illinois and 28,000 in Missouri. Ford will work with fuel providers and officials in other states to further develop the Midwest ethanol corridor.

With the introduction of four new 2006 models that have the E85 option—including the Ford F-150 pickup, Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car—the company will produce up to 250,000 ethanol-capable vehicles in 2006. Ford has produced flexible fuel vehicles in the US for more than a decade, with more than 1.6 million on the road.

Ford also announced that it is working with the city of Chicago to put hybrid vehicles into service as taxi cabs beginning in 2007, as part of a plan being considered today by the Chicago City Council. Ford is loaning the city an Escape Hybrid to serve as a training and education tool with taxi fleets and the public.

Ford Escape Hybrid taxis are already in service in New York City and San Francisco. Many Ford hybrid taxis in San Francisco now have more than 100,000 miles.  At 36 mpg, the vehicle’s fuel economy in stop-and-go city driving is 50% percent higher than the most fuel-efficient conventional Escape (24 mpg).

Ford has introduced a flex-fuel (E85) version of the Escape Hybrid as a research vehicle. (Earlier post.)



Ford, GM and others will fight for E85, hydrogen or alcohol fuels cause it fits well into their existing bussiness model. BUT, whatever they do, with arrival of
PHEV people will figure out that if u can drive first 60km
on electricity then why just not throw out ICE engine from
the car and instead add batteries to increase its range to
lets say 120km and use generator in the small trailer for
occasional long trips. Suddenly all Fords expertize in ICE is going with the wind together with their existing lines for producing heavy cars (new EVs will need to be lighter as every 100 kg of gross weight will play a big role). So their best line of defence is gasoline that doesn't cost too much to make fundamental shift in peoples minds and is not cheap either to get a profit.
I view all this as a pretty weak position. With oil
reaching over 200$ things will get ugly in short order.


Alex unless there is total embargo on Middle Eastern Oil, it is more probable that pigs will fly that we would have $200 oil in next 20 years.
It is only a question how fast you can ramp up production of oil from coal. And once convencional oil passes $100 fisher-tropch plants are going to multiply like mushrooms after rain.
I personally would prefer producing diesel from algea( and according to old government studies $100 would be a good price for algea to start be competative), and ethanol form biomass but in US it would be business as usual and using call for energy is a business as usual.
Ps. The study that I am talking about:
Look at page 232 which have a little bit of a optimistic number.

Paul Berg

Hello. Paul from Sweden here. Ethanol is still letting carbondioxide out in our skyes. The invironment needs emmisson FREE vihecles very fast. They say ethanol is brought from procucts that would have produced the same amount of carbondioxide anyway, but the reality is that if ethanol is made a valuable product, it will be produced in such numbers that nobody can say that it would have been prduced anyway. And look at where it will and is already procuced! Our well needed woods all over the world that helps us all protect from the inviromental catastrof coming slowly...and faster every day ! Reguards, Paul Berg, Sweden.


>>Ford has introduced a flex-fuel (E85) version of the Escape as a research vehicle<<

Mike, maybe worth saying it's a version of the Escape HYBRID? I hope Ford goes on to do a PLUG-IN biofuels hybrid. Now we're talking :)

Mark A

I agree with Paul Berg, somewhat. We need our woods and rain forests to stay....woods and rain forests and not cleared to plant cultivated crops in places they should never be planted! I feel we will be challenged in producing crops for fuel, and crops for eating. We will not be able to meet both. In fact, we are challenged in meeting crops for eating right now. Throw in a natural disaster such as a major flood, drought, wildfire, or even a hailstorm (at the wrong time in a crops cycle) and this will throw everything into chaos.

Ethanol and biodiesel are only a short term supplement to what is existing until much better energy ideas are implemented. I am excited about what will come, and feel ethanol and biodiesel will only be a short footnote in the futures history books.


World oil extraction is peaking, no new ones are discovered. China and India (over 2bln ppl combined)swaping their bikes for cars. What we have is limited amount of oil and rising consumption. All oil rich countries will only be happy about that.
Also to increase oil price 2 times all u need is 5% difference between production and consumption. Resesion might slow that process but we will be at 200$ oil faster then anyone can imagine. Bush is an oil man, and even if he is saying that US is on the oil needle then things are not that rosy.


There's already excess production of food, the problems with starvation have more to do with access to food that's already been produced (and rotting) than just availability, BUT I agree that an intense focus on biofuels will make the situation worse, shifting much of the current production of food crops to fuel crops isn't going to help. Ethanol from what we currently waste may be a better stopgap as oil prices rise, but the future of transportation needs to be electric as the source of electricity can be diversified, unlike most liquid fuel schemes.


In fact, we are challenged in meeting crops for eating right now.

No. We simply aren't. We are challenged in getting our plentiful food sources to the people who need them, due to political willpower, poverty, and transportation issues. People are going hungry, but it isn't due to a food shortage.

It's clear to me that the future of transportation energy is in diversity. Hybrids will play a bigger role, as will electric plug ins. But, that isn't sufficient, not in the short and mid term. Ethanol outperforms gasoline, if only by a smidge. Fine. Let's use it, and keep working on improving its performance while simultaneously working on F-T, electrical storage with batteries and hydrogen, improved public transportation, etc.

We don't have to embark on a single solution path, nor should we. Ethanol outperforms gasoline in terms of amount of oil necessary to drive 100 miles and in terms of pollution and in terms of foreign policy directives and in terms of domestic employment, if only in the short and mid term. Why not support it?


Isn't it true that the energy content amount of net biomass produced each year is a miniscule percentage of the energy required to fuel our vehicles? That doesn't mean we shouldn't use some ethanol, assuming we can do this without destroying our wildlands and pasturelands.

The thing that pisses me off about this GM push for ethanol is that it is a cynical attempt to avoid the real issue --- the piss poor fuel economy of the vehicles that they are pushing on the public. Regardless of whether or not ethanol has a net energy gain vs gasoline, it still does little to address our GHG problems when you're putting it in vehicles that get 12 mpg. When you consider that gas mileage goes down with ethanol, this reduces whatever net energy gain that exists.

This fits in with Bush's lame attempt to address our oil problem in the SOTU. Without any mention of conservation, he says we need alternative fuels as if that magically solves the problem.

Maybe it all doesn't matter, anyway. After all, we haven't really had winter here in Boulder, Colorado for years. Boulder used to be a cold place in winter.


I agree with stomv: in the short term, E85 is better for the environment, even if only slightly, so let's support it and get the infrastructure and flexible fuel vehicles out there. To go further, widespread infrastructure and vehicles in use will expand the incentives for medium-term private sector investment in cellulosic ethanol R&D, which is truly renewable.

Furthermore, ethanol can be used in PHEVs, and in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) which are about twice as efficient as ICEs, so this infrastructure will be useful in the long term.

So ethanol brings clear if small short-term benefits, significant medium-term impact, and fits into a long-term strategy of massive reductions in CO2 output. What's not to like?

[q->t to email]


Growing biofuels and food are not mutually exclusive. Production of ethanol from cellulose enables a wide variety of feedstocks to be utilized to make transportation fuel. Production of biodiesel simply requires a source of proper glycerides, which can come from algae or bacteria from processed sewage. Right now farmers are looking for a way to add value to their crops by using corn to make ethanol or extracting triglycerides from soy beans to make biodiesel. No one expects farm production of transportation fuel to be the "silver bullet" to our oil dependency. Its a important move in the right direction though. Now there are many flex-fuel vehicles on the road, and when the fuel becomes widely available, the country will be able to reduce its oil usage a little by using E85 or biodiesel. Whatever it takes to get the ball rolling towards a sustainable energy balance, a balance without a big question mark when it comes to cost and effect of oil use.


Oil went up in price from 20s$ to 70$ within 3 years WITHOUT any embargo from OPEC. 200$ will be till 2010 which will "cool" down world economy to provide 'soft' price increases. Bush will be remebered as a president who made great disfavour to America by putting short term objective of those who brought him to power (oil lobby) and not forward thinking about long term american public interests instead.
It was obvious that GM had to be obliged on goverment level not to drop their EV programm and all GMs songs how expensive EVs are will be put to shame by chinese who develop EV cars and buses as we speak now. So how come chinese do it and americans don't? I don't like conspiracy talks but here i go hmm....
American democracy is serving big money first and whole american public waits in line when corporations "bless"
them with new products. I mean, common, wtf is all this bussines with hydrogen? Any high scool teacher of physics (ohh I forgot americans learn phisycs in Universities only, in Soviet Union we had 4 year course from grade 6 to 9) will tell you that this is laughable to say the least. I like that one: get hydrogen from methaine, lol, what a joke, (for those who doesn't get it yet its wiser to burn methaine then convert it to hydrogen and then burn it). Maybe this lack of education makes all polititians look so stupid in the eys of those who understands where all taxpayers money go? What a mascarade: you want airconditioner??? lol, u will be happy to drive a bike in 20years time and forget by then their were airconditioner in your car, lol. Humans really need a
bat landing on their head before they start looking around and estimating things in new reality. Proove?
Look at "American Idol", how many of those think they are ready for Holliwood? The whole bloody stadiums of moms and dads together with their kids are sitting and waiting for hours failing in such a simple task as to
evaluate their vocal ability in comparison with others.
And you want this mass to give me their idea about hydrogen? lol. They better think about price of their properties in 10 years from now when it will be about 2 hours of biking to their jobs from their nice suburbs houses (gas will be anaffordable for more and more ppl) Yeahh airconditioner in a car is good, and I will not buy a car without one, lol.Be real people. Fight for energy is imminent (if not started already (Iraq)).
Hungry people will look different at heroic moves of their current president.
So how do you like that? It was all joke.

or may be not?


JN2, oops, thanks.


Alex. Thanks for the stream of consciousness. You are the Russian Thomas Wolfe.

Mark A

I am guessing Alex has never gotten into a car that has sat in the August Arizona sun for 5 hours..........

But he is partially right. I see single commuters driving 9mpg Excursions and Suburbans who also drive a mile to pick up a gallon of milk. Bikes, and just plain walking, will start to come into favor when fuel costs start to become painful enough. I for one, am moving into a newer house that is within walking distance from 4 grocery stores, and 5 restaurants, instead of having to drive 15 minutes. Thats one of my short term energy conservation enactments. Plus, when my current vehicles need replacement, I will look into something similar to a Honda Fit, or Toyota Yaris. Thats if Jeep doesnt build the Jeep Gladiator that they teased us with in 2004.


I have to disagree strongly with Adam:

in the short term, E85 is better for the environment, even if only slightly, so let's support it and get the infrastructure and flexible fuel vehicles out there....

Furthermore, ethanol can be used in PHEVs, and in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) which are about twice as efficient as ICEs, so this infrastructure will be useful in the long term.

Unfortunately, the conversion from cellulose to ethanol is currently 46% to 49% efficient, and probably can't be made much better.  Even in a 60% efficient SOFC, field-to-wheels runs less than 30%.  The byproducts may have some value as feed (brewer's yeast), but little for energy.

If you can get pyrolytic conversion to charcoal at 50%+ energy efficiency, you can burn the charcoal in DCFC's (up to 80%) and get around 40% throughput, PLUS the heat and chemical energy in the pyrolysis off-gas.  That's the way to really run a railroad, not ethanol.


Bottom line to all our effort is this :
What are we ready to sacrifize to leave our planet a better place for children.
Terrorizm sais Bush, but how can U fight it if u can't look into the mind of every person in the world? Put
police officer to every person? Listen to all conversations ? Its all waste of resources.
I say look no further then their(terrorists) money source and that is oil. If America uses less oil - it fights terrorizm
more then army in the Middle East.
Countries that implement green energy sourses now will suffer more (in short term) as that in itself would release more oil to those who doesn't implement these mesures, which in turn make 'dirty' guys be more profitable as they don't have to invest into new
technology. BUT in the long run oil prices will still
go up and 'dirty' guys will be caught with old technolgies based on oil. From polititian stand point
it is not favourable to push green just because of that.
Solution: Implement CARBON TAXES on all goods within country and imports from all countries, so those countries that push green laws will force their corporations to produce their products green way, which
in turn be taxed less, putting their products in a better position and increasing margins of green producers.
Ethanol: Bring all biologists, phisisists and polititians together and evaluate this issue. I personally believe carmakers are happy to 'bless' us with their new 'discovery'. They want food producers to compete with energy Co. for soil to grow crops. I personally feel these is a temporary solution and should be treated as such.
I am not a tree hugger but, today I see electricity is the best path as it is a prooven technology, domestically produced(extremely important), efficient.
I mean why don't we get reed of 90% of our gas stations ,put EVs on roads? and place electric outlets at every parking lot ? Why not just pick up a city somewhere in USA and
make a pilot project of this kind if Bush sees oil dependance as a problem? Bush has money for killing his own citizens in Iraq and doesn't want to divercify into these kind of experiments just for the sake of putting eggs in different buskets? Gime a break. Too
many wrong corporations having too much money feeding
polititians that they brought to White House thats what it is. In this regard,
One of the reasons why I will not buy Ford or GM btw.
I know they market their products to red necks in the Texas who likes Nascar and Hot rod dragsters and never knew how many planets in a solar system. And as you have seen (from American Idol example above) there are lots of that kind in US. Ohh well I m not, and as time passes those very red necks will be forced to join my way of looking at things (though for that to happen they will get a bat on the head in the shape of high gas prices).


Respondents are correct that ethanol production will not cause a food shortage. In Iowa year after year the grain elevators are full and mountains of corn are stored on the ground. This is due to our government subsidizing farmers since the Depression.

EIA has an excellent paper on cellulose based ethanol production. Anyone taking the time to read it will become a better educated respondent. We could make 12-16 billion gallons per year of ethanol just from corn stover.

Higher crude oil prices make all substitutes more cost effective. There is a place for EV, PHEV, HEV, E85, B20 etc. Let the market sort things out over time. There was a US fuel panic in the 1850’s when whales were over killed off the North American coast. Whalers had to go all the way around the world in search their commodity just as we are doing today for oil. Over time substitutes were found for whale oil and markets adjusted. The same will happen over time with oil. Not as fast as some of us would like but probably in ten years we will look back and be amazed at our progress. One only needs to look at the market changes with PC’s over ten years.


Bob. So I am assuming that we should eliminate the subsiday for ethanol and corn since you think the free market should sort this out.

Btw, I don't think we have time for the market to sort things out. We need Government action now in the form of carbon taxes or higher gas taxes to establish a framework for the market that will encourage these alternatives.

Alex, I find your comments entertaining and mostly right on. However, I would suggest you use a few paragraphs now and then for purposes of clarity.

Can you imagine what great strides we could make if we weren't pissing away most of our resources away on war?


"Can you imagine what great strides we could make if we weren't pissing away most of our resources away on war?
Latest figure I saw recently in Newsweek was $250B
That would buy a lot of wind farms. So instead of turning convencional powerplants on and off we could turn on and off wind farms.
That would put a lot solar roof in US.
That would create a nice high speed rail transportation sector(powered by electricity:)
And many other things that could decrease our dependace of oil actually, instead of increasing it...Dreams, dreams, dreams

What would you do with $250??


There are 84bln BARRELS of oil consumed by mankind DAILY.
12-16bln GALLONS is hardly a solution. While your example with the wales is an interesting and toughtful example of how people can solve their LOCAL problems, the magnitude of oil that human kind consumes is simplly stuggering if
you think a bit more of that. While ethanol talk is OK with me, I just can't see its worth so much attention as overall irrelevant in solving an energy problem as the whole modern way of doing bussiness is based on CHEAP OIL,
and if you remove it from the chain then I believe hardly anyone understands the consiquensies of such a move. Bottom line is we need an APPOLO size project to
address this issue, but that means ADMITTING PROBLEM by
goverment which in turn will send Wall Street in a wild
swing. So for now approach is not to scare public and
act as 'bussiness as usuall'.
Now think of those who manage bln $ funds in this situation, where do they position their investments?
they have to think 20-30years ahead.
Question remains will it be a shock or graduall slide into recession. I tend to believe the second.
Regarding war in Iraq: I think White House in a reaction mode rather then action, which means they reached the point where they had to do it, cause if they didn't, then Iran and Iraq (and might be Venezuella)would start trading oil in EUROs, which would force many countries to dump their dollars simultaniously. I don't need to say what that would cause. Oil is and will be traded in dollars is the law
for which US is holding the most powerfull military.

Harvey D

The potential for cellulosic ethanol to progressively replace most of the fossil OIL we use today is excellent. According to the FAO, humans consume less than 2% of the world growing biomass and 850 million hectares of fallow land could be used to produce 8.5 billion T/yr of biomass without affecting food production. Harvesting this biomass could produce over 1 trillion gal/yr of ethanol or about 4 to 5 times the 200 billion gal/yr of gasoline consumed. The surplus could be used to produce heat and electricity efficiently when burned/used in large fuel cells. New microfluidic channel laminar flow SOFC can operate efficiently with ethanol diluted to 40% alcohol (same as vodka) without power loss compared with pure ethanol thus delivering close to 100% of the energy available. Jet and turboprop aircraft can easily be modified to operate with ethanol. Virgin AirLines is considering the prospect. Of course, PHEVs would further reduce the ethanol consumption and EVs (the final solution) would do even better. Replacing gasoline with ethanol may not be the best long term solution but it may be the quickest way to get off imported fossil fuel or OIL. USA could even become a net fuel exporter.

Hampden Wireless

Simply put, we should only be using oil in places its the ONLY option. Electricity should be generated ONLY by hydro, wind, solar and nuclear and NO FUEL, COAL or GAS should be burned of any kind to make electricty. In cars plug in hybrids could allow us to continue our current lifestyle in the USA because the amount of fuel would become so low it could be made with conventional oil and ethonol. Turn the Ford Escape into a plug in and you do have a neat vehicle. Something that could cut down fossil fuel use by 90%.


The issue of available biomass in this country: maybe 1 bllion tons per year so states a new USDA report. An area twice the size of Texas would be required to grow the necessary biomass to replace all of the oil currently used in the transportation sector. So why not grow Algae from CO2 gas emissions produced at some electric plants? A large 1000MW power plant could produce 45M gals of ethanol and 45M gals of bio-diesel per year. Land use in the U.S.A.: urban and industrial 10%, farms and pastures 50%, forest & desert 40%. So I don’t see where you’re going to find the available land to grow biofuels without having a major impact on areas already in use? Farmland that’s fallow today will be needed in the future to feed our nation’s still growing population. PHEV and flex fuels vehicle could offer our country away out of our foreign oil dependency. Why are people waiting on the government to fix everything? There’re cars available to today that get high gas mileage and/or fuel flexible. So you buy one and then you talk someone else into buying one and so on!


"So why not grow Algae from CO2 gas emissions produced at some electric plants? "

Hate to be a nay-sayer but there is no working business model when it comes to biodiesel from algae. From what I've seen the idea is entirely based on the oil content of algae, which means the actual cost to grow and extract oil from algae could be too expensive to be viable. If anyone figures out how to produce algae biodiesel at less than the cost of regular diesel then rest assured that energy companies will start building algae tanks by the millions. Oil cabal conspiracy theories are all bunk, companies like Exxon will gladly grow fuel in the U.S. if there is a profit to be made.

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