GM CEO Rick Wagoner Rabid About E85

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
gm ceo rick wagoner rabid about e85

Driverless cars, intra-traffic electronic crash avoidance, plug-in electric hybrids, fuel cells, expanding foreign markets– GM CEO Rick Wagoner is on a tear, talking about everything and anything except, you know, the fact that GM NA isn't making a profit or, God forbid, predicting when it might be back in black. So what the Hell, let's add E85 to the list. C/Net reports that Rabid Rick reckons we need to increase the number of American gas stations selling E85 from the current 1400ish level to 15k to 20k (out of approximately 170k total). To serve corn juice to all those GM Flex-Fuel vehicles earning the company federal fuel economy credits, GM claims it's been working with big box retailers "like Wal-Mart and Target" to install ethanol pumps. "It has been remarkably difficult to get pumps installed," Mr. Wagoner admitted. "We've been doing more work than I thought we would need to." I think that's Rick's way of saying it ain't happening– which makes sense as Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg told us "we don't have a timeline for E85 implementation." In any case, Rick's well-up on the farm-based limitations of increasing E85 distribution ten-fold. "To get beyond a certain level, it is going to have to go beyond grain-based in the U.S.," he said. By then we should all be driving around in flex-fuel E-flex Volts.

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4 of 22 comments
  • Bill Wade Bill Wade on Jan 09, 2008

    Anybody gone grocery shopping lately? You haven't seen anything yet.

  • Thx_zetec Thx_zetec on Jan 09, 2008

    "Ethanol revived in the 1980’s due to the ridiculously cheap corn prices" No - even with corn at 2 bucks a gallon this industry could not be weaned from the taxpayer teat. "ethanol has become competitive with the help of the blenders credit" A bit of an oxymoron here - if it was competitive it would not need the credit. This is like saying I am competitive drag racing my ford contour with top fuel dragsters, with enough of a head start. "E85 is here to stay. The federal government just endorsed 30 Billion gallons per year by 2012 or some such. It is federal law. My hope is that the use of corn becomes more efficient as the industry matures, " I hope not. The feds might endorse it, but centralized ecomonomic planning has a poor track record. There is no free lunch, the feds can borrow more and more so that we can pretend E85 is cheap, but bill will come due (check out the mortage mess). The subsidies are more than the 51 cent blender credit, most states add 20-40 cents more, and pay for pumps, etc. "and celluosic ethanol comes up big." BTW if cellulosic is so great why does it need even *more* subsidies?! They are talking about 25 to 50 cents more per gallon.

  • RobbieWilliams RobbieWilliams on Jan 10, 2008
    #1, yes, you get reduced fuel mileage, but you also get reduced price per gallon. It is just about a wash. And if you are concerned about carbon emissions/global warming/Halliburton/(green topic du-joir) and want to fuel your vehicle with USA-Made E85, you are willing to pay a few cents more per gallon overall. The only reason it is a reduced price per gallon is due to government subsidies. You pay for that in your taxes, so you do end up paying more. I am not against a subsidy, however, it should be used for a product that will actually produce some good, such as celluosic ethanol. #2, The number of E85 stations has doubled in about 18 months from 700 stations to 1400. If it continues to double every 18 months, you get 20 thousand stations in 6 years. Wow, now this is optimistic thinking. Continuous doubling of stations every 1.5 years? The exponential price is staggering as is the pace. #3, E85 is here to stay. The federal government just endorsed 30 Billion gallons per year by 2012 or some such. It is federal law. My hope is that the use of corn becomes more efficient as the industry matures, and celluosic ethanol comes up big. The government did mandate the 30 billion gallons, however they did not specify the source of this E85. In Europe and Brazil they are working on ways to make E58 sustainable and have a positive impact. Until the U.S. lets go of "Big corn" you will have merely replaced one problem for another.
  • Chuckgoolsbee Chuckgoolsbee on Jan 11, 2008

    Just keep eating those french fries folks. --chuck (getting 50 MPG on that OTHER biofuel)