E85 Boondoggle of the Day: The Sin of Omission

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Running your car on E85 reduces your mpgs up to 26 percent. Common sense tells you the price of E85 must be lower by the equivalent percentage to cost the same as normal gas. It must be lower again to save you money. It behooves the entire ethanol industry– from corn field to pump– to make sure E85 consumers know this fact; once bitten, twice shy. Meanwhile, any media outlet that doesn't mention E85's relative lack of efficiency when covering the retail end of the biz is acting irresponsibly. But a story specifically touting E85 as cheaper than gas without highlighting the fuel economy penalty is entirely reprehensible. To wit, 11alive.com's "Fuel For Under $3 In Metro Atlanta." "'I couldn't believe it,' said [Mike] Hamilton. 'I couldn't believe it they were selling fuel that cheap.' He's one of the lucky ones. Hamilton drives a vehicle that runs on E85 fuel. At the Safa Express BP station on Highway 20 in Lawrenceville, E85 is selling for $2.99 a gallon. Hamilton estimates he saved over $20 with one fill-up." Still, E85 is "not for everyone," as "the majority of cars on the road today won't run on E85." And then, this "Some drivers have complained their gas mileage is down with E85. Not Mike Hamilton. In fact, he's looking for a way to convert his other vehicles so they'll run on the ethanol blend, now that he can find it." He likes it! Mikey likes it! I'm in!

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Oldsmoboi Oldsmoboi on May 01, 2008

    Furthermore, if we're going to base our fuel decision making on BTU per gallon, why are we not bringing diesel into this discussion?

  • SAAB95JD SAAB95JD on May 01, 2008

    Just remember, it takes more fossil fuel to MAKE E85 as well... it is a well timed marketing ploy by GM (and to a lesser extent Chrysler) and George Bush. We will be able to celebrate when BOTH are gone.

  • 97escort 97escort on May 02, 2008

    So what are the E85 bashers proposing to do about Peak Oil and the eventual decline of availability and the high price of gas? Nothing. Granted the price of ethanol should more accurately reflect it's energy content to compensate, but is that the fault of ethanol or the distributors/retailers who pirce it? RF may not want to get into the subject of oil subsidies but they are massive. We have had 3 Presidents from Texas over the last 45 years who set the agenda in favor of oil. All three had major wars on their watch and 2 of them were for oil security. It is unreasonable to expect biofuel to compete unsubsidized with such heavily subsidized competition.

  • LUNDQIK LUNDQIK on May 02, 2008

    Not to put words in RF’s mouth, but I believe the original intent of this article was to point out that media coverage of ethanol does not properly cover all the facts of this wondrous product. As previous posters have mentioned E85 bashing (er, facts?) is readily available. And yes, it is, if you search for it on the internet. What’s being spoon-fed to most consumers is that Ethanol is the solution to the energy crisis. We’ve done it! No need to change your lives! Just run your car on food! Hell, a few years ago I thought Ethanol was all those things AND I’m a car nut. Then I found the light at TTAC. Hallelujah!! (Well, just kidding on the whole light thing.) My point is that right now general consumer Ethanol knowledge isn’t what it should be. Too quote Stephen Colbert, most media coverage is: Corn + Magic = Gasoline! http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/04/29/colberts-word-discusses-the-magic-of-ethanol/