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US Automakers Pledge to Double Output of Biofuel Vehicles by 2010

The three major US automakers—Chrysler, Ford and GM—today announced plans to double annual production of vehicles capable of running on renewable fuels to two million cars and trucks by 2010.

The pledge toward more flex-fuel vehicles that can use E85 ethanol or biodiesel came in a letter to all Members of Congress from Chrysler Group President and CEO, Tom LaSorda; Ford Motor Company Chairman and CEO, Bill Ford; and General Motors Chairman and CEO, Rick Wagoner.

We need business and government to work together to enhance the production, distribution and use of renewable biofuels. Our hope is that with this commitment, fuel providers will have even more incentive to produce ethanol and other biofuels and install pumps to distribute them.

Currently, there are more than 5 million flex fuel vehicles on the road and the three domestic automotive companies will add an additional million cars and trucks this year alone. If all of these vehicles were running on E85, they would displace more than 3.5 billion gallons of gasoline a year, according to the companies.

Vehicles alone will not get the job done. To capitalize on this commitment, Congress and the Administration need to continue to promote the production of biofuels, increase incentives for refueling infrastructure, and continue incentives for automakers to produce biofuel vehicles.

Eventually, we need to get to the point where most Americans have reasonable access to these fuels at a price that is competitive with gasoline. Without this alternative fuel infrastructure, the US could miss the opportunity to displace gasoline with homegrown and produced biofuels.

Currently, there are only about 700 E85 pumps among the nation’s 170,000 gas stations.

The three automakers have endorsed the Energy Future Coalition’s goal of getting 25% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2025.




With all the great things about diesel.

Does it take more oil to make a gallon of diesel than a gallon of gasoline?
Thus making it less efficient to make than gasoline.


Depends on the feedstock and how you refine it. With feedstock getting heavier and sourer you have to crack more and more of it into gasoline/diesel fractions. More is cracked into gasoline than diesel -- that's demand driven. What's this have to do with a push for biofuels?

Roger Pham

Why not built cars that can run on both gasoline and renewable methane from waste biomass gasification? Ethanol production consumes too much energy, labor fertilizer and valuable arable land. Even cellulosic ethanol requires expensive enzymes, and complicated process. Ethanol distillation to anhydrous form consumes a lot of energy, and at too low temperatures for the waste heat in this process to be recycled by steam turbine for electrical generation. Ethanol distribution requires surface transportation which consumes more energy, labor and money. By contrast, biomass gasification for methane production at very high temp of ~800 degrees C can allow very efficient waste heat recovery by steam turbine for electrical generation at above 40% thermal efficiency. Methane can flow in existing pipelines to destination for much lower distribution cost.


I don't like this strategy by the right wing to bundle together biodiesel and ethanol as "biofuels". It lends some kind of environmental legitimacy to ethanol which it absolutely does not deserve.

shaun mann

very cute. when they started adding flex-fuel capability to cars in the late 90s, it cost less than $100 per car.

the cost has probably gone down.

the gov't could require all petrol cars from a major manufacturer sold in the US to be E85 compatible and no automaker would raise much of a fuss.

Joseph Willemssen

Loophole fuels Detroit's ethanol fixation

Manipulating CAFE rules

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules set minimum mileage standards across all vehicle models. For cars, the average is 27.5 miles per gallon. For light trucks (sport utility vehicles, pickups, and minivans), it's 21.6 mpg.

But under pressure from $3-a-gallon gas prices, the Bush administration is recommending that trucks produce an average of 24.1 mpg by 2012. The new rules will be a daunting challenge for automakers already struggling to meet the current standard.

An alternate fuel-friendly government, however, has created an ethanol loophole for carmakers. It lets manufacturers pump up their fuel economy ratings, particularly in the most popular vehicles that tend to get the least gas mileage, light trucks.

Running on gasoline, an SUV like the Chevy Tahoe achieves 20.1 mpg under CAFE's test. Put E85 in it instead and the fuel economy plummets to 14.6 mpg.

But for the purposes of CAFE -- and here's where we fall down the rabbit hole, Alice -- the government starts massaging the numbers. It only counts the 15 percent of E85 that is gasoline in its fuel economy rating, increasing the vehicle's mileage figure a whopping seven-fold to 97.3 mpg.


So, on average, manufacturers are getting an average 12 mpg boost on their CAFE numbers for a given vehicle, and the average combined gas-only fuel economy of MY2007 E85 vehicles is only 17 mpg. The preferential CAFE treatment boosts that to 29 mpg.

Here is the relevant section of the US Code for this.

Joseph Willemssen

Additional excerpt:

Only Washington, D.C. could actually produce an imaginary 97.3 mpg sport utility vehicle!

The government then takes that number, averages it with the 20.1 gasoline number, runs it through a special formula, and -- voila! -- arrives at the flex-fuel Chevy Tahoe's official CAFE mileage: a healthy 33 mpg.

Such high numbers, naturally, threaten to blow out the federal fuel economy program and make it too easy to comply with. So the feds added a rule: They capped the total benefit of ethanol vehicles toward the CAFE standard at 1.2 mpg.

Because automakers pay big fines on each tenth of 1 mpg that they are below the CAFE mark, a manufacturer like General Motors Corp. could face $180 million in fines for violating light truck fuel economy rules were it not for the ethanol provision. The cost of outfitting trucks to run on gas and E85 comes to about $150 a vehicle, according to General Motors -- or a total cost of $60 million.


Hey, gotta take ethanol seriously. Produced from current WASTE, I mean overproduction of corn, very quickly it will move to cellulosic ethanol from WASTE corn stalks and another agricultural WASTES. At the same location, on mainly same distilleries. And as being WASTE derived fuel, it is assured to be DOMESTIC.

An Engineer

What a load of BS: If all of these vehicles were running on E85, they would displace more than 3.5 billion gallons of gasoline a year, according to the companies.
Except that no-one mentions that the current ethanol production, 4 billion gallons a year (p7; 2005) or a paltry 260,000 bpd compared to US oil consumption (20 million bpd), is enough to replace ~1% of US oil consumption, after factoring in ethanol's lower energy content.

Build all the E85 pumps you want, where is the ethanol going to come from?

Q: Are these guys that stupid (dump stock, they are going under) or just dishonest (dump stock, you cannot trust a word they say)?

Joseph Willemssen

Ford Shifts Its Focus Away From Hybrid Vehicles


DETROIT, June 29 — The Ford Motor Company, which has prided itself as the leading innovator of hybrid vehicles among American car companies, said today that it would not meet a previously announced goal to build 250,000 gas-electric vehicles by the end of the decade.

Instead, Ford said it would place a greater emphasis on developing vehicles that can run on fuels other than gasoline, like E85, a mix of ethanol and gasoline.

Hybrid vehicles will still be in the company's lineup, but they are more likely to be cars than trucks or sport utility vehicles, officials at the company said.

The move represents an increasing focus among American automakers on ethanol, a fuel derived from grain alcohol, as a gasoline substitute.

Joseph Willemssen

Except that no-one mentions that the current ethanol production, 4 billion gallons a year (p7; 2005) or a paltry 260,000 bpd compared to US oil consumption (20 million bpd), is enough to replace ~1% of US oil consumption, after factoring in ethanol's lower energy content.

And I'm sure most people don't know that 99% of ethanol is used as an oxygenate, and the remaining 1% goes for E85.


Mark, as far as I understand from my research on the subject, diesel is actually more efficient to refine than gasoline, meaning diesel has an even greater total well-to-wheels efficienty compared to gasoline than simply comparing the pump-to-wheels or vehicle operation efficiency using the two petroleum-based fuels.

So, with clean (i.e., ultra-low sulfur) diesel on the way, we could be making large and real fuel economy gains, as Europeans have done, by increasing the share of diesel vehicles on the road.

Plug-in hybrids (diesel or gasoline) would make very significant improvements in fuel economy while shifting much of our transportation energy to electricity - which diversifies the potential feedstocks and allows us to more readily utilize domestic energy supplies for transportation.

Ethanol from corn can contribute in a minor way, while ethanol from cellulosic biomass and agricultural, forestry and urban wood wastes can contribute a significant quantity of our energy needs.

We have lots of options ... what we lack is commitment and leadership.

An Engineer

We have lots of options ... what we lack is commitment and leadership.
Well SAID!

shaun mann

we have plenty of both commitment and leadership.

it's just that the commitments and leadership are in the wrong direction.

the people making decisions and giving advice cannot be trusted because of the legalised bribing system in place in the US gov't

and the rule of the ignorant self-centered masses described as one of the pit-falls of representative democracy will only lead to senators looking for solutions that benefit the people they represent.

any member of a gov't has the responsibility to seek what is best for humankind, not just the people that elected them. and voters have the responsibility to elect people who will find the best solutions instead of voting for someone who shares the voters opinions.


Thanks WattHead, I got some bad info some time back.


The reason for cafe is not to conserve fuel its to reduce forien oil use. As such yes a e85 car is effectively to those that make the standards a car that uses far less oil.

And in fact it doesnt realy matter what milage a vihicle gets if they do in fact manage to increase ethanol production to cover the needs. And yes ethanol production is booming so... who knows.


Seems obvious to me that when the oil companies make $120B in profits and the US government makes $60B in fuel taxes, then the status quo shall prevail. So much for the "vision thing".


What are you smoking? The oil companies make 9.5% profit.. the fuel tax is something like 40-45 cents a gallon.. you do the math.


The Math:

US gasoline consumption: 140B gallons per year x $.45 per gallon tax:
$63B tax revenues per year in the US.

Exxon Mobile made $36B in profits in 2005 and the indsutry as a whole made $112B in 2005. They are on a run rate to exceed $120B in profits in 2006.


Exxon paid 3 billion in taxes in 1999 and 23 billion in 2005. What would the federal deficit be without these high prices ???

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