Last week, I reported on my decision to use E85 fuel in my 2009 Town Car for a week or so. How’d it go? Well, as it so happened, I accidentally veered off the road while texting and killed a
pretty solid “sexting” session with one of automotive journalism’s most prominent, and beautiful, distaff contributors. (I apologize for the placement of the “jump” there, but I’ve been told to “get my clicks up” or something to that effect.) Back to the math.
In the original article, I indicated that my “target mileage” to break even with E85 usage was 17.8mpg, based on my gasoline mileage of 21.4 average and the $2.29/$2.79 pricing of E85 and 87 octane fuel. The first tank was very promising; I averaged 18.1mpg with no difficulty.
The second tank was still $2.29, but gasoline was $2.63. This made my target mileage 18.6mpg, but from the moment I refilled the mileage began dropping precipitously, eventually settling at 16.4. Worse yet, twice during my morning commute I noticed a low-speed stumble. Was it because I had fuelled up at a different E85 station?
Over the course of the first 28.5 gallons, I averaged 16.4 mpg total. My third fillup, still priced at $2.29 but this time facing a gasoline price of $2.87, came just as temperatures in Ohio fell to the 45-degree Fahrenheit range. A Halloween weekend of serving as a designated-driver taxi for some female friends found me pulling into my driveway at 3:05AM, having burned thirteen more gallons and lowered my overall mileage to 15.7. There was a persistent smell of alcohol in the car, but this turned out to be due to the “to-go cup” of Abolut Apeach that somebody spilled down her costume. It turns out there was no cotton between her and the seat to absorb the drink, but I’m told that vodka can sterilize almost anything, including corrected-grain leather.
Today’s commute, done with the windows down just in case I got pulled over by the Ohio Highway Patrol, raised the average back to 15.9 and burned all but a gallon or so of fuel. I’m now sitting in a corporate cafeteria doing the math. A rough total of 42.5 gallons, purchased for $97, carried me approximately 675 miles. Assuming there would have been negative temperature effect for using standard gasoline, something of which I am not completely certain, I would have needed 31.5 gallons of gasoline to cover the same distance. Averaging out the cost of gasoline over the past eight days, I would be looking at about $87.
This is the kind of sample size and scientific methodology that probably makes Michael Karesh vomit directly into his pocket protector, but if you want some genuine, peer-reviewed literature, I suggest you read Social Text. The raw numbers indicate that it cost me ten bucks to run E85.
The intangibles aren’t as clear-cut. Using E85 decreases my range, shortens my refuel interval, and possibly causes the Townie to be a bit upset in the mornings. On the other hand, it raises the price of food, and I’m told that’s about all this country exports nowadays, so that’s a positive thing. right?
I’m semi-tempted to keep running the yellow-handle fuel for a week or so more. I will probably go through another 30 gallons or so before I leave for Toronto on Friday for another weekend catastrophe. If I can find an E85 station in Buffalo I might be able to run the Lincoln on corn for my entire trip and purchase no fuel at all in tax-rapacious Ontario.
I will leave the last word to one of my Halloween party pals. When informed that her short-wheelbase limo for the evening was running on alcohol, she frowned for a moment: “What are we going to drink, then, if the car drinks all the good stuff?”