By on June 2, 2008

e85.jpg"Some people may buy E85 because it burns cleaner than gasoline, while others may want to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil," American Automobile Association (AAA) spokesman Eric Escudero told The Denver Post. "But to succeed, the fuel needs to offer drivers an economic incentive, something it has failed to do even after the surge in gasoline prices." Yes there is that.The trip-A is now monitoring and listing E85 prices nationwide. And here's the really sucky part (if you're an ethanol producer): they're adjusting E85 prices to take into account its relative lack of energy efficiency. "After adjusting for its lower energy content, E85 cost an average of $4.32 a gallon in the U.S. on Friday versus $3.96 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline." Oh dear. In fact, E85's rep is now so bad that the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association is playing pig pile on ethanol. "E85 is not the silver bullet, it is the red herring," claims Prez Charles Drevna. No really. "U.S. taxpayers subsidize ethanol to the tune of 51 cents a gallon, and the fuel provides significantly lower mileage. If that E85 is not 25 percent to 33 percent less than… regular gasoline, you are getting snookered." Snookered? I think there's a better word for it.

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10 Comments on “E85 Boondoggle of the Day: “U.S. taxpayers subsidize ethanol to the tune of 51 cents a gallon”...”


  • avatar
    Campisi

    Doesn’t E85 have a higher octane rating than pure gasoline? If that’s the case, what would it cost (after the corn-lobby subsidies) compared to fuel of a similar octane rating?

  • avatar

    Would that the government in the UK would stop taxing the hell out of fuel let alone subsidise any fuel product!

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    Has anyone other than Koenigsegg developed a car that uses E85 exclusively? The CCXR’s engine in E85 form makes 25% more power because of higher compression ratios made possible by E85’s higher RON/AKI, certainly worth the conversion. The biggest problem with E85 is half-assed Flex Fuel, which doesn’t take advantage of E85’s only real advantage.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Since the boondoggle is a fixed amount ($0.51) and the mileage penalty is a ratio (25%), E85 will fall farther behind as fuel prices continue to rise.

    That said, are there any E85 capable vehicles that require 91 octane or more? E85 and premium are the same (adjusted) price according to AAA. Then you would be getting 98 (or more) octane fuel for the price of 91-94 octane.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Depending on where you live, E-10 may make incremental economic sense. Because of ethanol’s lower energy content, you get 3% lower mileage on E-10 than on straight 87 octane regular. If E-10 is more than 3% cheaper, the lower price more than makes up for the loss in mileage. With E-85, the loss in mileage is 25%. Even at today’s oil prices, E-85 is never cost effective.

    The above ignores ethanol subsidies that consumers can’t affect by their choices at the pump. They make ethanol an even worse deal.

  • avatar
    DearS

    Is E85 25% cleaner than Gas?

    Also it may finally start making sense when gas is 25% more expensive….$4.32 x 125% = $5.39 9/10. Oh and the Less foreign oil is one of the perks. Although I wonder how that balances out with food prices. Also Perhaps Americans will stop eating to much corn (syrup).

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/byfueltype.htm

    Says here you’ll save $ and reduce your carbon footprint by using E85.

    Better yet, ask somebody that actually uses the stuff.

  • avatar
    EJ_San_Fran

    The fact that E-85 is so expensive proves only one thing: the sellers don’t really want to sell it.

    I suppose there is plenty of demand in the regular gas market to sell all ethanol produced.

    We will need to wait for a situation of oversupply of ethanol for E-85 prices to come crashing down.

  • avatar
    benders

    No, E85 has a higher octane rating than gasoline. If I remember correctly, ethanol has an octane rating of ~110.

    And the reason the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association wants to kill E85? They can buy ethanol cheaper than they can make gasoline so they mix ethanol to make premium fuel. So if E85 goes away, the price of ethanol goes down and they make more money.

    And I can buy E85 for $2.65 (in the heart of corn country); that’s about $3.53/energy content (33% less energy).

  • avatar

    unfortunately, next to nobody takes advantage of E85’s octane advantage.

    If engine management could adjust timing you would see MORE power as a result of that lowered efficiency – a worthy exchange in my eyes.

    Even better – turbo cars could run more timing AND more boost (safely) – you’d see probably 50-100 hp gains (most turbo cars today see 50 hp with the addition of a 93 octane chip as is).

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