General Motors Launching Biofuel Vehicles In Thailand

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- General Motors Corp. plans to launch vehicles that can run on biofuel later this year in Thailand, which is offering incentives to cut reliance on gasoline, a senior official said Tuesday.

David J. Tulauskas, director of public policy for GM Asia Pacific, said the vehicles will be able to run on E85 fuel, a blend of 85 percent ethanol with gasoline, or E20 fuel which contains 20 percent ethanol.

Volvo Thailand launched in December the first flexible fuel vehicle that can run on a range of alternative fuels including E85, providing an option for those who want to go green and cut their fuel costs.

Tulauskas said the E20 fuel is 20 percent cheaper than regular gasoline, while E85 is 40 percent lower. The Thai government also offered incentives, including lower excise taxes for biofuel vehicles, he said.

"The (global auto) industry is 96 percent dependent on oil and this is not sustainable," he told a two-day auto conference here. "Ethanol has the biggest potential to displace petroleum in the next decade" as it is widely available and can be made cheaply.

"We expect good response" when the vehicles are launched in Thailand, he said. He declined to give further details.

The Thai government is promoting its ethanol industry, which can be made from crops such as sugar cane and corn. Compared to gasoline, the E85 fuel emits up to 70 percent less greenhouse gas that is blamed for global warming and can reduce oil demand by as much as 30 percent, officials said.

Tulauskas reiterated that GM's Asia-Pacific operations remained stable despite possible bankruptcy in the U.S.

Detroit-based GM, which has received billions of dollars in government financial support, is working on a restructuring plan and has until June 1 to avoid a possible bankruptcy filing.

More in Operations