E85 Costs More Than Regular Gas. Has Done. Will Do?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
e85 costs more than regular gas has done will do

E85 is, indisputably, a less efficient energy source than normal gas. (In other words, you get less miles per tank with E85 than non-E85 fuel.) According to a study based on EPA data by the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics at Ohio State University, the "E85 penalty" varies according to vehicles and vehicle types, and city or highway driving. "The mean fuel economy of E85 in city driving is 73.42% that of gasoline, with a range of 66.89% to 81.33%. In highway driving, the mean fuel economy is 73.4% that of gasoline, with a range of 67.61% to 81.53%." OK, so the American Automobile Association tracks fuel prices for both blends. "Over the course of time that AAA has been tracking adjusted E85 prices, they’ve never fallen below the daily price of regular gasoline," The Wall Street Journal reports. "Since early October, adjusted E85’s price spread over regular gasoline has varied widely, between 4% and 12%, suggesting there’s at least some potential for improvement. However, Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey newsletter… says it’s 'extremely unlikely' that the adjusted E85 price can ever fully close the gap with retail gasoline." I dunno. E85 is already heavily subsidized from the field to the pump; what's the bet that [more of] your tax dollars "help" close that gap?

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  • Morbo Morbo on Apr 26, 2008

    I still love the fact that the car companies are (were) hyping ethanol burning engines as some modern solution to our oil addiction, when my Ranger with it's Reagan-era Vulcan Iron V-6 burns E85 just fine (or would if the closest E85 station to Jersey weren't 200 miles away).

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Apr 28, 2008

    Corn based alcohol production is proving to be a massive mistake. It isn't reducing oil imports. Yah, lets burn our food, great plan! "Ranger with it’s Reagan-era Vulcan Iron V-6 burns E85" That was one heck of a motor. I know a fellow who has over 225,000 miles on his '95 Taurus with that engine still running strong and delivering 25 MPG overall fuel economy in his mix of local and highway driving. Strong, simple and efficient. Darn good motor.

  • Kph Kph on Apr 28, 2008

    I agree with the points on octane. It's known on Subaru forums that even though ethanol has less energy/gallon, mileage doesn't drop proportionally on the turbo models. So you actually get better mileage for the amount of energy that's there in ethanol. And to some extent that makes sense because ethanol burns faster and more thoroughly than gasoline. That said, ethanol isn't for everybody. Yet the government still insists on shoving it down our throats while making us pay for it.

  • Engineer Engineer on Apr 28, 2008
    ...plus sourcing ethanol from other vegetation besides just corn in the future (maybe even from some forms of biomass), and maybe ethanol can work. Here's a better idea: take that other vegetation besides just corn and convert it into regular gasoline and diesel, as the German company CHOREN is doing. Leave the ethanol for its intended use: Cheers!