You’ve heard the old joke about ham and eggs, right? The chicken is involved, and the pig is committed? Well, I’m going to give ethanol a shot for a while and report the details to all of you. I’m involved, and my Town Car is committed.
There are three E85 stations within five miles of my house. Two of them are operated by the Kroger grocery chain. E85 pricing is perhaps the one thing in America more subject to political and economic meddling than gasoline pricing, but it’s currently at a point where it could make sense to run it.
To find out for myself, I’ve run my 2009 Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited down to below “E” and refueled with E85. On October 24, 2010, E85 was priced at $2.29 locally for me, compared to $2.79 for 87 octane gas. My Town Car reports 21.4 miles per gallon in mixed-use driving, usually running between 75 and 85 on the freeway and with about five surface street miles for every fifteen ones on the Interstate.
I estimate that I need to average 17.8 mpg in order for E85 to “balance out” under these conditions. I’m scheduled to drive about 600 miles in the next seven days, so on Monday I will come back and tell you how I did.
No, this isn’t particularly scientific, and it ignores the other potential costs of E85 — wear on the engine, fuel system damage, food prices in Zimbabwe, and so on — but it’s a start.