Toyota Flex-Fuels the Tundra– Just Cause
Bill Reinhert is Toyota USA's national manager-advanced technology group. He wants you to know that Toyota's decision to offer an E85-compatible (a.k.a. flex fuel) Tundra pickup has nothing to do "greenwashing." “It’s a longer-term strategy," Reinhert told WardsAuto. "What we’re not going to do, in the short-term, is say: ‘Look at us! Aren’t we green?’” Bob Carter, ToMoCo NA's group vice president and general manager, seconds the motion. He claims Toyota's decision to develop the flex-fuel full-sizer was designed to help the company capture more sales in the American heartland; where corn is grown, ethanol subsidies flourish and E85 stations abound ('cause they don't have to schlep the pipeline aversive juice cross country). Be that as it may, the Midwest is certainly a key battleground for the new Tundra. "The Midwest is where we’re seeing our strongest sales growth percentage-wise, not volume-wise.” Oh, and the fact that inexpensively converted E85 Tundras will boost Toyota's CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) ratings may have a little something to do with it too.
All that really needs to be done for E85 conversion is to make the fuel system corrosion-proof...And some ignition timing programming. Of course we all get to pay for this in higher food prices as well as higher taxes.
Unfortunately, fuel economy is rather lousy when you burn E85 in a standard engine. However, that doesn't need to be when you design engines with E85 in mind from the start. Is that something we can expect Toyota to deliver?
Every vehicle I've rented lately has been a Chrysler Corp with an E85 badge. I guess Toyota wanted to guard the title it earned for conspicuous eco-sensitivity that it earned with the Prius.
Not only does ethanol bring higher food prices, but the corn is grown on land irrigated by fast-dwindling aquifers whose water quality is suffering due to nitrate pollution due to over-fertilization. I read recently of an ethanol plant linked to a feedlot, linked to a manure digester. The digested manure puts out methane--some of which fuels the ethanol plant and some of which goes to the natural gas pipeline system. The cows are fed mash from the ethanol plant plus un-converted corn. My question is why have the ethanol plant? If you didn't have the ethanol plant, you could compress the gas and run cars off that. The cows could eat pure corn--no energy having been expended to turn it tnto mash. This country has a boundless energy source in the stuff it buries in landfills and flushes down the toilet. Why go to the trouble of water-depleting ethanol when every community can have its own low-water-reqirement gas plant and every vehicle can be converted to switch back and forth between petrol and compressed methane?