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Automakers Warn Consumers About E85 Blend

Tue, 05/23/2006 - 3:43am
Andrea Lyn Van Benschoten

Automakers have announced they are trying to get more ethanol-capable vehicles on the road quickly, but are warning consumers in the meantime they should not use an E85 ethanol blend in conventional vehicles or try to convert their vehicles to use E85.

Approximately five million vehicles on U.S. roads can run on E85, which contains 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. General Motors (GM), Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG say they are capable of ramping up E85-capable vehicle production quickly, as long as consumers are able to purchase the fuel. About 685 of the nation's 165,000 fueling stations sell E85.

While E85 vehicles require special fuel injectors and other parts, all vehicles are capable of running on E10, which is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. Minnesota and Hawaii are the only states that require virtually all fuel sold to be E10, according to the American Coalition for Ethanol, an industry trade group. Montana, Washington and Missouri have passed similar laws but they're not yet in effect.

Representatives from GM, Ford and other automakers warned that any blend with more than 10% ethanol can corrode parts on a conventional vehicle.

The oil industry doesn't support that legislation because it would make it more difficult and expensive to manufacture fuel, according to Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. The ethanol industry is already having trouble meeting a current mandate that will require production of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by 2012, he said.

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