Here Today, Corn Tomorrow: The E85 Road Trip

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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here today corn tomorrow the e85 road trip

With only 750 American gas stations providing the corn juice for flex-fuel vehicles, there's more E85 hype than E85. Which is the point collegiate road tripper Mark Pike and his cohorts over at decided to make by attempting an E85-only trek across the North American landmass in flex-fuel Crown Vic supplied by the bad mo fo's at FoMoCo. In the PR sense, the trip's a hit. Pike's Vic has garnered a bushel of free publicity for the supporters of fuel coming from Billy Ford's "heartland." Of course, the socio-polticial issues surrounding E85 production, transportation and provision are only slightly less complex than the home assembly instructions for a Bowflex Versatrainer. [Read Mark Hasty's post on E85 economics on tomorrow's TTAC.] A quick call to Mr. Pike revealed that the flex-fuel campaigner is a bit of a piker in terms of the fine print, but props are due. The most socially responsible thing I ever did during my college vacation was making sure that my empties were placed in a proper trash receptacle.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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4 of 19 comments
  • BZArcher BZArcher on Jul 22, 2006

    Personally, I'm just amused that I work about 2 blocks down the road from the concrete cornfield in the picture.

  • Philbailey Philbailey on Jul 23, 2006

    Sixty Minutes (the lads who assassinated Audi) did a piece on E85. They visited some very clever farmers in the midwest who had built their own ethanol factory. There was a long shot of water vapour pouring from the stack and a VERY brief shot of a natural gas buner about four feet in diameter, capable of burning a humungous amount of gas. No one asked the questions: "How much energy does it take to produce ethanol?' and "Wouldn't it be better to just liquify the natural gas and use it directly" Answers: Much more than you gain and Yes.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Jul 23, 2006

    I got 21mpg in mixed city/hwy driving in my test Grand Marquis. I'd expect 26mpg if I set the cruise at 65mph, cranked up the A/C and hit the interstate. Granted I'm one of those guys who looks far enough ahead to coast more than brake, but still...20mpg highway on E85? That's a huge drop.

  • Starlightmica Starlightmica on Jul 23, 2006

    philbailey - Yup, and let's not forget that natural gas supplies are even tighter than oil. When those prices go up, coal will likely be the primary fuel for ethanol production, and then there goes the clean air benefit. I see from the next article that there's "The Truth About E85" series playing here right now - good!