By on March 23, 2016


Ford is doing so well, you’d be a damn fool to ever think of not investing in Ford, says Ford.

That, hiring a crop of cranky old people paid off for Dodge, Kentucky joins the let’s-sue-Volkswagen party, Honda gets a Hoosier boost, and ethanol continues to suck … after the break!

ford logo

Big Blue isn’t leaking green

Hey, whoa, where do you think you’re going?

Ford Motor Company is looking to calm investors who worry that people will stop buying cars, causing the money to run out at the Big Blue Oval, Automotive News reports:

Investors traded down Ford shares 3.1 percent this year through yesterday on concern that the U.S. auto expansion has peaked and earnings will be pressured. Ford, which reported record pretax profit of $10.8 billion for last year, is viewed as vulnerable to repeating its near-death experience of seven years ago when it had to close plants, cut thousands of jobs and mortgage all its assets to get life-saving loans.

Not so fast, said Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks.

Ford could now break even financially if annual U.S. auto sales fell to 11 million, a 37 percent decline from last year’s record 17.5 million cars and light trucks, Shanks said.

You heard the man. Call your broker right now.

You like me, you really like me!

The 2015 Superbowl commercial that marked Dodge’s 100th birthday by featuring a crop of bad-ass Centenarians was last year’s top automotive ad, reports Automotive News:

Neilson placed the ad, titled “Wisdom,” in the top spot based on an online survey of five million TV watchers.

The weathered — yet still vibrant — faces of the centenarians provided compelling imagery, said Mark Sneathen, managing director of Nielsen Automotive. The ad stirs emotion as well, he said, making it especially impactful in memory formation.

The ad started out as a press conference video shown at the 2014 New York Auto Show, before it found new life as a viral Internet video. Executives at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles knew they had something good, so they decided to air it during the most-watched event of the year.


You’ll pay … Oh, you’ll pay: Kentucky

The state of Kentucky has filed suit against Volkswagen and its luxury divisions, claiming it violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act with its its emissions-rigged vehicles, Reuters reports:

“Volkswagen must be held accountable for its false and misleading promotion and sales of its vehicles in the Commonwealth,” [Kentucky Attorney General Andy] Beshear said in a statement.

Beshear’s suit filed in Franklin Circuit Court also names VW’s Porsche and Audi units and seeks civil penalties for violations of the state’s Consumer Protection Act and an injunction barring similar future practices by the company.

Volkswagen hasn’t responded to the suit. Kentucky now joins four other states that are suing the automaker for installing a defeat device in its diesel vehicles designed to fool emissions-testing procedures.

2015 Honda CR-V

Honda drops money on CR-V facility

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana really likes making its cars in the Hoosier state, so much so that it’s planning a $52 million investment in its Greensburg production facility, reports the Indianapolis Star:

The jobs and investment will support the production of the Honda CR-V, which the company announced in January would be moved to Indiana from Mexico …

“This new investment in our Indiana facility will enhance our manufacturing flexibility and better position Honda to meet customer demand for our lineup of innovative and fuel-efficient passenger cars and light trucks,” said Bob Nelson, president of Honda Manufacturing of Indiana.

Honda says 100 new jobs will be created at the facility, which began producing the Civic in 2008.

Ethanol Pump

Ethanol dreams turn to a sour mash of misery

Going big on ethanol in the past decade has turned into a big bust for producers — and wannabe producers — as a supply glut has now erased profits, Bloomberg reports.

While the industry caught a break with record U.S. harvests in 2013 and 2014, that only compounded the ethanol surplus while a surge in domestic oil supplies sent gasoline prices to a seven-year low …

Even with lower prices for corn, ethanol plants are losing about a penny on every gallon — the worst returns in four years — compared with a profit of 94 cents in 2014, according to AgTraderTalk LLC, a Johnston, Iowa-based consultant.

The shale oil boom reduced the need for ethanol in the context of energy independence, but even measures like a reduced mandate for renewable fuels (issued by the Environmental Protection Agency) have been unable to ease the oversupply.

[Image: gavel, SalFalco/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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64 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Ford Soothes Investors, Dodge Gets its DiCaprio Moment, and Kentucky Aims for Volkswagen’s Center Mass...”

  • avatar

    Ethanol mandates. Another corrupt government swindle. Does it keep the environment cleaner? No. Does it make the country meaningfully “less dependent on foreign oil?” No. Does it “reduce the power of the oil industry?” No. Does it cost consumers more? Yes. Is it a corrupt scheme to steal money from the general public to subsidize politically favored agribusiness corporations who then kick back some of the stolen loot to politicians? Yes.

  • avatar

    Ethanol is crap.
    Anybody ever done study on mileage of the same car – same route.

    I remember a 6% MPG drop when local pump went from E-0 to E-10 – what was it; 10 years ago. Doesnt seem right.

    • 0 avatar

      Never done a proper same route same temp/humidity test, but I hated filling up with E-10 because the MPG did always drop by 1 or 2. It just felt like they were selling watered down gas.

    • 0 avatar

      Ethanol has 1/3 less energy than gas per unit volume, so that’s what the difference in mileage would be. Wow, a Civic would go from 30 MPG to like 20 MPG. That’s terrible.

      • 0 avatar

        Now that our two of our three vehicles are FFV, I can learn to live with E10 -> E85 in the newest vehicles.

        Once in a great while we fill up on E85 out in farm country, and the immediate power loss is noticeable.

        It takes a lot more pedal to get the vehicles moving on E85 than it does on E10.

        • 0 avatar

          You are imagining that. Check the specs. Most vehicles produce more HP when run on E85.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            That sounds like a self-calibration issue. Your car needs to figure-out what you put in the tank, so it goes to a very safe throttle/ignition map. You notice the difference right away, but you don’t notice the performance coming back gradually over the next few miles.

          • 0 avatar

            jjster6, Neither my wife nor I are “imagining” that it requires more pedal to make the vehicle move on E85. We noticed the same when we had the 2012 Grand Cherokee as well.

            We try to stay clear of E85 but some Circle-K stores only sell E-85. And when you’re out of gas, you’re out of gas.

            I’ve started carrying two 5-gal jugs of E10 Premium on the hitch-mounted cargo carrier for these excursions into the wide-open spaces.

            That allows me an extra 150 miles before running completely dry.

          • 0 avatar

            heavy handle wrote

            “That sounds like a self-calibration issue. Your car needs to figure-out what you put in the tank, so it goes to a very safe throttle/ignition map. You notice the difference right away”

            HH, thank you. I believe you get the price. I never even considered that variable.

            Now that you mentioned it, I believe you are right!

            Thanks again. It really has been eating away at me causing me to avoid E85 if I can.

            (mpg has never mattered to me and neither has the price of gas. But performance loss bugs the schit out of me.)

        • 0 avatar


          That’s kind of odd. I know GM’s flexfuel engines make more power on E85 (that’s both certified by the SAE and shown in emperical testing) and I’ve never noticed a power loss on the older ChryslerCo 4.7L when on E85.

          I wonder what is different on the Toyotas and Pentastar.

          • 0 avatar

            ajla, there are so many variables that can effect throttle response, like how much E10 was still in the gas tank before topping off, terrain and outside temperature, humidity, GVW, and so on.

            We use Premium 91 E10 in all our vehicles and all of them are just giddy when we push the go pedal.

            So, our experience has been with E85 that when we pull away after topping off, the vehicle is no longer as responsive to the throttle as before.

            And when you’ve been cruising at 85mph and over for long stretches you kinda like to get back up to that speed ASAP.

            We only fill with E85 when there is no other PREMIUM gas available. But sometimes there is nothing else for sale, at any price.

            I’ve never run any of our vehicles on 86 or 89 octane since we bought them. It’s always been 90, 91, 92 or 93 octane.

          • 0 avatar

            The difference is in the programming. E85 has a much higher octane than any gas you can buy at the pump.

            The way the modern FFV works is that it uses the readings from the O2 sensors to fix the a/f ratio. With Toyota and Chrysler that is all that they do. Ford and GM on the other hand register a refueling event, and then determine if the fuel composition is different by calculating the change in the average short term and long term fuel trims. From this they infer the % of ethanol and thus the octane. Now that they know the octane they adjust the timing curve to take advantage of that octane boost. It also helps that Ford and GM have adaptive timing. Rather than use the knock sensors to retard the timing a safe but significant amount when pinging occurs, they use it to keep a running correction factor that allows them to dial the timing in just as the a/f ratio is dialed in with the O2 sensor.

        • 0 avatar

          My FFV Ranger makes noticeably more power with E85. If you are losing power, you may want to replace your wideband O2 sensors. They don’t necessarily show bad on a codescan when they aren’t working in their full range.

          I don’t give a crap about the politics. When E85 costs two-thirds or less than E10, then it makes sense economically to use it. There will be a time soon enough when that is the case again.

          Vehicles always run best when using the correct octane recommended by the manufacturer, unless you are running a custom tune — and any decent tuner also recommends the right octane for the tune. you derive no benefits from using higher octane than recommended. Any enhanced additives are going to be needed to remove the deposits left by less volatile, slower-burning fuel. If you are using a Top Tier branded fuel in the mfr-recommended octane, there’s nothing better you can do for your car.

        • 0 avatar

          That just shows that you are driving a Toyota FFV. An engine can make more power on E85 and if it is from Ford or GM it does. When you look at the advertised HP numbers for their FFV vehicles there will be a disclaimer that those HP numbers are only valid if the vehicle is fueled with E85. Yes there is less energy in a gallon of E85 but because it needs less air, the limiting factor in power production you can burn more fuel and thus make more power.

          The problem is that Toyota and Chrysler don’t take advantage of E85’s properties and extract that extra power. That is also why in the real world Toyota and Chrysler vehicles have a bigger drop in mpg when operated on E85 than a Ford or GM.

          I’m sure I’ve said it here before, but we used to own a Taurus FFV and E85 was not available in our immediate area. However it was available just outside of that area. I had a trip to make that took me through areas where E85 was available and at a reasonable price. So I gave it a try. When I got home with a 1/2 tank or so of almost all E85 my wife drove it to work. She came home and asked what did you do to my car? I fearing that there was some sort of damage sheepishly said nothing. Knowing that I’m one to modify our vehicles for better performance she then said will it has more power now are you sure you didn’t do anything. Of course I then realized she was talking about the big low end torque boost that E85 provides and the fact that you need less air and thus less throttle to produce the same acceleration.

          You really need to drive a good FFV and not a compliance/CAFE dodging FFV and then you’ll know what the drag racers know and that is that E85 is a high performance fuel.

          • 0 avatar

            Bingo. Same engine in a Ranger. I don’t use E85 unless it’s way cheap, enough to offset the loss in fuel economy, or if I’m towing the trailer, because I need every horse I can get then.

        • 0 avatar


          The math doesn’t quite work out like that; at least not in my Silverado. E85 does contain less energy per unit, but if the engine is designed to take advantage of E85’s much higher octane rating that can be mitigated a bit by increasing power output and reducing the engine’s work load. In real life I see a redution of 1-2mpg city (I’ll get 15-16 mpg on 87 octane and then I’ll get 14mpg in E85). On the highway the redution is 2-3 mpg. Its notable but its nowhere near 30%. My GMT900 trucks showed a bigger disparity.

          I find the power loss to be a bit surprising. My Silverado loves E85, it feels smoother and more powerful when running E85; a claim backed up by GM rating it for higher output on E85. Toyota doesn’t rate their Trundaquoia at any lower power output when using E85 so there really isn’t a reason for it to perform worse. A quick scan of the user manual indicates that they suggest a more aggressive oil change schedule when using E85, but nothing about diminished power. Perhaps you are experiencing the initial conversion while your ECU tries to figure out what’s in the tank and pulls timing to be safe?

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Ethanol can burn more efficiently in a modern engine because of higher octane, so the mileage hit wouldn’t be that bad. That being said, the per-gallon prices in the picture above show that the bottom line is nearly the same (use more fuel, pay less for it).

        • 0 avatar

          But do you really CARE about gas pricing? I mean, if you need gas, you need gas, at any price! IF, if, you choose to drive.

          If someone can’t afford it, they should not drive.

          Gas prices will go up again. But we should enjoy the cheap gas we have now.

          It would be better without corn liquor IMO. But the Great White Fathers in DC have decided to subsidize the corn farmers.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            HDC, If that was a reply to me, all I said is that in most cases E85 and E10 end-up costing you the same. You use a bit more E85, but pay less for it.

          • 0 avatar

            Sorry hh, I should have been more clear.

            I meant to convey, in a general sense to everyone, does an individual driver really care about the cost of gas?

            About E85 costing less? I don’t think that is the case where we filled up at various convenience stores out in the middle of nowhere.

            In our case, transporting the E85 to the sales location adds a significant amount to the pump-cost.

            You know, If you’ve ever driven I80 West of SLC, past Tooele and beyond, any driver is pretty damned happy to see a sign that reads “Next Gas 60mi”.

      • 0 avatar

        First of all, I hate the whole stupid ethanol boondoggle, it’s a waste of money.

        But, E10 has about 97% the amount of energy of E0, so any reasonably modern vehicle is going to have around a 3% loss of fuel efficiency using it. That has been my experience in multiple vehicles. Folks claiming 6-10% or more decreases either didn’t really know what mpg they were getting prior to the switch or haven’t used a large enough sample size to get a reliable number for what they’re getting now, or both. There are places I can buy E0, but it costs significantly more than 3% more than E10, so the only thing I buy if for is lawn equipment and my boat.

        • 0 avatar

          “There are places I can buy E0”

          I wish.

          I checked with the puregas and gasbuddy websites and found none in my area.

          While on the road one day in West Texas I located a puregas outlet using my wife’s phone.

          But when we got there, a sticker on the pumps read “May contain up to 10% Ethanol.” We filled up anyway.

          So much for the accuracy of those E0 websites.

          • 0 avatar

            Lucky to live in Virginia in this regard, where E0 is everywhere. But it costs more, on the order of 25% or more right now. The added cost is worth it to me in my carbureted motorcycles, because I hate rebuilding carbs. It makes absolutely no difference in either my car or truck, neither of which care about ethanol at al since their fuel delivery systems were made to handle it. The motorcycles, not so much.

        • 0 avatar

          or our turbo motors retard timing and loose more efficiency than the energy density alone would indicate. My 05 drops about 10% range on a tank with E10. It mysteriously recovers with E0. Less loss with some E10 formulations than others too. Pretty consistently better with some brands than others so maybe my foot can neatly compensate for the brand of gas, or maybe there’s more variables than octane, energy density, and volume.

        • 0 avatar

          There are a lot of factors that add up to the fact that the difference in energy content does not equal the difference in MPG. Some cars do loose up to 10% with E10 while others may only loose 6% or even the 3% that the calculations would indicate.

          Years ago there was a study done to determine the effects of different percentage of ethanol on a number of vehicles. The choose both regular and FFV cars for the test and then ran them through the EPA test procedure with E0 to either E85 or as much as the vehicle would take without setting an “adaptive fuel limit reached” code.

          Some non FFV vehicles did loose 10% of their mpg, while some lost between 3-6%. With the FFVs the loss was sometimes 0% and sometimes in that 3% range.

          • 0 avatar

            No, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a highly respected independent scientific testing facility, found that fuel economy decreased at a rate commensurate with the energy density of the fuel, as you would expect with any modern computer controlled engine. And this test was done in 2008, so more modern cars should have even less of a problem with E10, they’ve been designed to use the stuff.

            “All 13 vehicles exhibited a loss in fuel economy commensurate with the energy density of the fuel.* With E20, the average reduction in fuel economy (i.e., the reduction in miles per gallon) was 7.7 percent compared to E0.
            • Limited evaluations of fuel with as much as 30% ethanol were conducted, and the reduction in miles per gallon continued as a linear trend with increasing ethanol content.”


            You folks who believe you’re actually getting a 10% reduction from using E10 are simply mistaken. They found only a 7.7% drop using E20. If you’d like to explain the reason why the 3% drop in energy density for E10 would cause a 10% drop in fuel economy, I’m all ears. Backed up by some actual research would be nice. Otherwise, the physics and the actual scientific testing indicate 3%, I’ve tested it in my cars and truck, and I get the same results. And please don’t try to say that Oak Ridge is going to falsify easily confirmed tests just to make their evil overlords at the EPA happy, that’s stupid.

      • 0 avatar

        Remember that E10 is still 90% gasoline so that you are only losing energy on the 10% that is ethanol. The resulting drop for the mixture is about 3% which is very hard to measure on the road because of all the uncontrollable variables like traffic and weather. Three percent of 30 mpg is only 1 mpg and it’s common to see at least that much variation from tank to tank using the same fuel. The difference is much more pronounced with E85. An article on Wikipedia estimates the drop in mileage to be 25%. That would take a 30 mpg Civic down to 22 or 23 mpg. I’ve read comments that E10 causes more than a 10% drop in gas mileage with some vehicles, which would make it counterproductive, but I have no idea about their validity.

        My 2008 Infiniti G37S is supposed to run on 91 octane premium. Because of the substantially higher price for premium, especially if it contains no ethanol, I have been using 89 octane midgrade with no apparent ill effects. It’s probably down some on power at full throttle but the difference isn’t obvious. Gas mileage may be down some but is more than offset by the lower price per gallon.

        I have thought about conducting my own comparison test but doing so would take a lot of effort. The first requirement is a test route relatively unaffected by traffic and stop lights. To maintain consistency, the vehicle would have to be dedicated to the test. Procedure would be to measure fuel consumption with alternating tanks of each fuel with a throwaway tank in between to minimize the residual amount of the other fuel during a measurement. If there is a systematic difference between the fuels it should show up over a few months.

        Before retiring, I worked for a major railroad doing engineering field tests. Diesel fuel is one of a railroad’s biggest expenses so there was always interest in reducing fuel consumption. We were continually pestered by salesmen for gadgets and additives they claimed would reduce fuel consumption. When we asked them to back up their claims, they would give us testimonials from satisfied customers rather than results of engineering tests. A frequent example would be a letter from an old fart who got better gas mileage with their product when he drove his RV to Florida for the winter. Of course, nobody mentioned changes in how the old fart drove because he was now thinking about fuel economy. Another example would be an industrial engine that had been rebuilt between the “before” and “after” fuel consumption measurements. In 25 years of testing, we found only one product that made a statistically significant improvement and it cost more to buy than it saved.

    • 0 avatar

      Ethanol is great, it is a truely high performance fuel but it is at its best when mixed with gasoline.

      I have done testing, though not as scientific as it could be since weather varies and driving patterns do too.

      The reality is that the loss of mpg is non linear and does vary between different vehicles.

      I’ve read tests that followed the EPA procedure that show that on a FFV the MPG will drop until you reach 25-30
      5 ethanol and then increase and reach a local and sometimes global peak in the 40-50% range. From there to about 70% it drops again and after 70% it drops even quicker.

      My personal tests with our Taurus FFV showed similar results.

      • 0 avatar

        I own three vehicles. If I fuel them with E10 I lose about 10% in fuel mileage.

        Now here’s a question I’d like a real answer to. If I burn 10% more fuel using ethanol, how exactly does that benefit the environment? I’ve seen the numbers the Govt boys throw around but it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s 90% fuel I’m told is bad for the environment. I’m burning 10% more of that 90%. It would seem to me that ethanol is more a feel good thing than a beneficial thing.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m no financial analyst, but “Too good to be true” doesn’t sound like it describes Ford’s current situation too well. It seems to me like the company is making smart moves to ensure that it will remain competitive and profitable no matter which way the market shifts. “Best-in-class” or “nearly-best-in-class” is my assessment of most of their products, and I find myself quickly becoming a fan of the brand.

  • avatar

    dumb question,

    why does the E85 pump in the picture say it only has 70 percent ethanol? I never bothered to check and just assumed E85 meant 85 percent ethanol. I have no beef with ethanol other than the damage it evidently does to engines that were not designed for it. Just don’t think it or anything else should be subsidized.

    • 0 avatar

      It says it contains a minimum of 70% (but no more than 85%). In the winter, E85 is sometimes cut down to 70.

      • 0 avatar

        In most of the country where “E85” is readily available it is always E70 in the winter. Even CA will get E74 in the winter. The blenders have to base their blend on the expected low temps in the next 6-8 weeks to insure good cold starts when someone is using the last of their tank that was the last of the station’s tank.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    WSJ reported last night that VW “reaffirmed commitment to build a two-door coupe derivative of the midsize SUV that goes begins production in Chattanooga, Tenn., later this year.”

    Will that be their version of the X6/GLE coupe?

  • avatar

    Great Dodge ad…missed it during the Super Bowl. Unfortunately we get re-run Canadian Tire ads during the Super Bowl up here!

  • avatar

    Must be a bit easier to get your job when your pops is the governor of Kentucky. Sworn in a month after his dad’s reign ended.

  • avatar

    Driven by the Honda plant several times. It’s YUUUUGE.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Wait a minute, I thought we would all starve to death because of ethanol? Now there’s plenty of ethanol, but the food situation hasn’t deteriorated. Could it be that the anti-ethanol “talking points” were just BS repeated by people who can’t think for themselves?

    Not that it matters anyway, ethanol has been off the ideological radar for a couple of years.

    • 0 avatar

      Have you bought beef lately? We won’t starve, but it drove the prices of feed corn up and delicious steak got more expensive…

      • 0 avatar

        Nah. Western ranchers like the Bundys who feed their free-range cattle free government grass will keep beef prices in check!

      • 0 avatar

        No Ethanol drove the cost of feed corn down as what is left over from making ethanol is a better feed than the raw corn inn the first place. Demand from China and Japan and the cost of fuel is what had driven up the cost of beef.

        • 0 avatar

          Exactly what Scoutdude said. Using feed corn for both feed and ethanol makes better use of corn than producing it for feed only.

          The FUD tells you it’s one or the other and that’s not true.

          • 0 avatar

            Missing the point. Corn is an ingredient in whiskey and should be drunk, not burned, or the raw corn should be used to make the best bacon, not beef.

          • 0 avatar

            Of course, because the USA (whose motto should be changed to “In High Fructose Corn Syrup We Trust”) is sooooooo lacking in corn, the price of which has collapsed along with other commodities.

          • 0 avatar

            “In High Fructose Corn Syrup We Trust”

            Metformin Nation!

          • 0 avatar

            That’s pretty much what happened.

  • avatar

    That F150 though – is that factory? You could hide a steer in the fender gaps.

  • avatar

    I must say, I find it funny that Kentucky is concerned about the emission-defeat devices in the Volkswagens when the state itself doesn’t even have vehicle inspections to begin with. But, there aren’t really rolling death traps everywhere like one would suppose. I for one am glad we don’t have inspections because there’s no way my truck would pass right now…

    • 0 avatar

      Kentucky likes to pick and choose what it cares about.

      Public smoking? OK
      Liquor taxes? LOW
      Insurance? NO FAULT (expensive)
      Car registration? TAXED ANNUALLY ON VALUE (expensive)
      Brodozers errywhere? NO INSPECTION
      Polluting VW? OH HELLS NAW, SUING

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah – I always thought it’s weird that KY picks and chooses social causes… for instance, why is KY *not* a right to work state, but they practically beg kids to smoke / dip / chew?

        You know, I’m reminded of what KY did in 1861!

      • 0 avatar

        Thankfully, our car insurance is still somehow pretty cheap. We pay $75 per month per car for full coverage on a 2013 CX-5 and a 2016 6. Oh, and around $15 a month liability for the truck.

        And public smoking depends on area. Where I live, it’s all but banned everywhere.

        But otherwise, yes. I agree that the state is very picky about what matters.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Ethanol question:

    What fuel is specified for the EPA’s MPG and emissions test protocols? Pure gasoline (now rare), E10 (which is very common), and/or E85 on those vehicles so equipped?

    Summer or winter blend?

    You see, bloggers quarrel over 0-60 times, actual vs EPA MPG ratings, and driveability issues, but I’ve never given much thought to the differences fuel could make – amongst all the other variables.

    • 0 avatar

      The only fuel allowed for non diesel vehicle for EPA certification is E0. The fact that different cars loose different percentages of mpg on E10 is one reason that some cars just can’t meet those estimates while others can.

      The estimates for using E85 are purely calculated from the E0 numbers and the difference in BTU’s per gallon. That is why mfgs who spend the time to properly engineer their FFVs typically beat their E85 estimates and those that do it purely to get the CAFE struggle to meet their E85 estimates.

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