Green Car Congress and Charles Territo of the Auto Alliance on 17 April briefly discussed the blend wall (ethanol supply greater than US’s ability to absorb it in 10% blends) and mid-level blends of ethanol being used on existing, non-flex-fuel, vehicles.
Territo noted that there are 240 million vehicles on the road that are designed and warranted to operate on ethanol blends up to 10% ethanol, but are not designed to operate on mid-level blends. However, currently there are close to 7 million vehicles designed to operate on blends of up to 85% ethanol.
Rather than make incremental changes to the amount of ethanol blended with gasoline, a better investment would be to expand the E85 infrastructure. With an investment in E85 infrastructure, the sky is the limit to the amount of ethanol that can be used with flexible fuel, E85 vehicles.
We don’t object to the potential of mid-level blends of ethanol; we just believe that before any decision is made the current durability testing plan needs to be completed. In April of this year a senior EPA official said they may need another year to complete the durability testing.
The original testing involved 13 cars and they drove an average of 500-1,000 miles. With each of these vehicles there were different results and there was nothing conclusive ... Some of the catalytic converters showed significant wear and others didn’t. The proponents of ethanol would have a tough time arguing that the lifetime of a vehicle is only 500-1,000 miles. The average vehicle on the road is 9 years old and needs to drive well past 100,000 miles.
If the wrong decision is made, there is the potential that consumers throughout the country will be negatively impacted. That is a concern for the auto industry and we hope that is a concern for the DOE and EPA. The Obama administration has stated that they will make decisions based on sound science and we encourage and support that.—Charles Territo
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers represents 11 car and light truck manufacturers selling vehicles in the United States and serves as a leading advocacy group for the auto industry. Alliance members represent 77% of all car and light truck sales in the United States.