E85 Biofuel Needs Cool Cars and More Stations

Wall Street Journal reporter Matt Vella drove a FlexFuel Chevrolet Suburban 1,907 miles on a round trip from New York City to Indianapolis to see if it was convenient to use a car that uses 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. His findings: limited availability of flex fuel vehicles, E85 shortcomings but cheaper gas. He found a high concentration of stations that carried E85 in the Midwest, but stations are rare back East.

He found other pros and cons. E85 is a renewable energy source, it is cheaper and it provides an alternative to imported oil. E85 has a lower energy content and cuts fuel economy by 30%. Vella found that there weren't many 'cool' vehicles because Midwesterners that purchase most flex vehicles drive larger, less fuel efficieint models like the Ford Crown Victoria, Dodge Durango, Jeep Commander and Saturn Relay. And most of the stations are in middle America.

Vella found that the biggest reason people liked E86 was price, not environmental or foreign policy benefits. The highest E85 price was $3.11 in Philadelphia with a low of $2.39 in Moroevill, Pennsylvania. Regular gasoline was $3.50. (The Wall Street Journal, 6-19-07)

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