I posted this on pencils palace and thought I'd post it here too.Here is why we shouldn't be talking about E85 but instead using our time and effort to convince people why they shouldn't be driving a gas sucking SUV.US average gas price as of 5/15/2006 is $2.94 obtained from following source.http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_home_page.htmlUS drivers average 43.5 miles per day or 15,878 miles per year. Taken from source http://www.bestplaces.net/docs/studies/gasprices.aspxCost per annum to drive the following vehicles using above stated figures.Lincoln Navigator at 13/18 city/hwy or 15.5 avg., per annum cost is 15,878 miles divided by 15.5 x the avg. price per gallon = $3011A Honda Civic at 30/40 city/hwy or 35 avg., per annum cost is 15,878 divided by 35 x $2.94 = $1333The new and improved Toyota Prius at 94 mpg will have a per annum cost as follows.15,878 divided by 94 x $2.94 = $496!!!!!!!!!!!Yes that's right $496 per annum, $21.90 per month, and .73 cents per day!See site below for reference.http://www.leftlanenews.com/2006/04/10/next-prius-to-offer-113-mpg/Don't be fooled by the news, by the government, by oil companies, and the like. Be free thinkers. Take control of your lives, your government, and your personal freedoms.
"Here is why we shouldn't be talking about E85 but instead using our time and effort to convince people why they shouldn't be driving a gas sucking SUV."<eyeroll> Why not argue for driving slower, or motorcycle incentives, or bicycles? Ya gotta pick your battles in life (and the last thing I need is being preached to or handbilled the next time I'm parking my 9 year old SUV that I barely ever drive except out of necessity - keep the damned "gas hog" notes and hands off my aging wiper blades please ;-). "Be free thinkers. Take control of your lives, your government, and your personal freedoms."James, your whole argument was oriented towards annual fuel costs (not to mention presented now to an investment group scraping bottom and hoping for Ford's survival). You also set up an example with the Ford vehicle offering as the villan and Honda & Toyoya's entries as the heros. 1st issue - lets keep it real. Do you really think people buying big domestic or foreign SUVs or high HP cars care about fuel costs? If I'm (someone) buying an impractial Hummer or urban Escalade it's unlikely I need to worry about money - and especially fuel costs (or anyone else's opinion?) enough that $2K/year of added refueling costs really matters. Know your audience cuase recent news tells us they (an influential spending portion of the public) don't care and FWIW they're not close to being all Ford customers. Go figure - SUVs are still very popular even with gas above $3/gal and Honda and Toyota, and their customers, used in your example are as guilty as Ford for being on the supply side of these trends. Perhaps Toyota and Honda most exploitative IMO since despite being cash & market-share rich they have been ramping up big vehicle/truck marketing & production and as Ford looks towards finding profit in smaller sedans and greener crossovers. When you look at Honda include trucks and increasingly high performance Acuras. Likewise with Toyota don't miss their newer than not truck entries and Lexus SUVs/lux-boat cars. Also, on the other hand, don't forget many of us can only afford one vehicle to meet a variety of needs - rushing out to buy the latest Prius is something few can afford to do (I know I can't). Again, know your audience applies.FYI The popular mew HONDA Ridgeline's mileage is EPA estimated to be 16 / 21. The Toyota/Lexus LX SUV is EPA rated at 13/17. Wanna bet not every Honda truck & Toyota SUV customer is towing horse trailers or needing to off-road through wilderness? Don't be surprised to see these in the nearest strip-mall.Yes indeed, Be free thinkers America and don't be trapped in politics for the sake of politics. Wanna save gas today? Back off the go pedal & relax a little ;-)B(Though inclined to be a little left of center still tries to be practical & logical)
>1st issue - lets keep it real. Do you really think people buying big >domestic or foreign SUVs or high HP cars care about fuel costs? If I'm >(someone) buying an impractial Hummer or urban Escalade it's unlikely I >need to worry about moneyOddly enough I have heard about people buying Hummers and then complaining about the terrible gas milage. Couldn't believe my ears!The High price of gas has altered my thinking some. I still have my 5000 lb. 428 powered 66 Tbird and have no intention of getting rid of it. I am planning to rebuild the engine with a few "improvements" I was going to use a little hotter cam but with standard lifters. Now I'm looking at a very mild roller cam from Crane along with roller rockers to cut internal friction. Also considering an Eddlebrock carb over a standard Holley in hopes of better part throttle economy and haven't ruled out the possibilities of various fuel injection units out there. The car currently does a best of about 13 mpg. At 3.29 a Gal for premium in Chicago currently it's worth putting some added consideration toward economy.But the best part is I get to drive the politically correct crowd nuts by striving for better milage (and maybe even emissions) in a car that I'm certain is considered politically incorrect these days. But hey I bought it 20 years ago to have fun....
rorshey wrote: "Be free thinkers. Take control of your lives, your government, and your personal freedoms."I agree with that, but *disagree* with the other premise that SUV drivers are wrong for choosing to drive SUVs. I see that choice as part of the personal freedom you champion.I prefer to avoid government mandates, but think that we need a mandate to phase in required levels of alcohol in motor vehicle fuels (without using oil to create alcohol). It isn't going to happen at the rate we need (see below) otherwise. Perhaps it would start off as corn based, but production volume requirements would probably end up with alcohol being derived from coal.Economic sense? Probably not in the normal means of accounting for it. I believe it makes *political sense* to not be dependent on unstable and hostile regimes for the energy lifeblood of our economy. Alcohol provides a relatively cheap basis for fueling motor vehicles, enabling energy independence (since most oil is used in the transportation industry). We've got enough oil to keep aircraft flying without switching at this time.Thinking it's time to make a change,Rob
""Economic sense? Probably not in the normal means of accounting for it. I believe it makes *political sense* to not be dependent on unstable and hostile regimes for the energy lifeblood of our economy. Alcohol provides a relatively cheap basis for fueling motor vehicles, enabling energy independence""I have nothing against ethanol but don't see it as a cure all. Currently we import about 2-3% of our alcohol because there is a 54 cent per gal tarrif. A limited amount can be imported duty free from certain countries. Without the tarrif much more would be imported due to lower production costs in other countries. As is, in the last 15 years demand has gone up 900 million gallons to 3.9 billion. This for up to 10% usage in "normal" gas (used in only about 30% of US sold gas) and the limited amount of E85 we now use. Mandating an increase in E85 use would drive demand up and probably drive costs up to the point that even with the tarrif it would be competitive to import more ethanol. Also if costs were driven up there would be a general demand to "do something about the price" which would possibly lower or eliminate the tarrif.How long do you think it would be before we would have a significant "foriegn dependence" on alcohol?
"How long do you think it would be before we would have a significant "foriegn dependence" on alcohol?"I would say it would depend on how the legislation is written. You could avoid a new foreign dependency through mandating certain domestic alcohol levels, restrictions on "green production of alcohol" or through taxation. My angle on "green production of alcohol" would be restrictions on ecological impact with regard to biodiversity. That could discourage plowing the rain forest to make alcohol (the likely primary source of major alcohol imports). Given WTO issues with taxation, a simpler approach might be to go with the domestic production level. Just a couple thoughts, I'm not an expert in implementation of Big Government.Would this proposal be an unpleasant government intrusion?It sure would be to me! I just see the current road we're on as being much more unpleasant.Looking for a better way to direct our future,Rob
"Oddly enough I have heard about people buying Hummers and then complaining about the terrible gas milage. Couldn't believe my ears!""Heard of"? Does that mean you didn't hear them yourself? Or know they weren't simply making conversation. I have no doubt everyone complains about gas mileage - including those driving Hummers becuase people like to complain in general. What the recent sales figures and articles are telling us is that it (fuel costs) hasn't changed vehicle purchases for the most part. That doens't mean everyone but clearly $3/gallon wasn't the threshold that ends such markets or a lot of interest."The High price of gas has altered my thinking some."I t has everyones - to what degree is the question."I still have my 5000 lb. 428 powered 66 Tbird and have no intention of getting rid of it."But are you driving it an hour a day to & from work daily? I would hope not. Average commutes are pretty long for too many to be tanking up thirst 7 liter boats. Anyway I think the questions are more of what is driving NEW vehicle purchase decisions and in what direction. I don't think we'll see any increasingly rare vintage muscle cars etc being dumped like we did in the early to mid 70's. Likewise I'd be surprised if we see a glut of H3's being replaced by Priuses by those owners."But the best part is I get to drive the politically correct crowd nuts by striving for better milage (and maybe even emissions) in a car that I'm certain is considered politically incorrect these days."That's the best part? LOL...whatever keep ya happy. I started going into the whole injection option with my op-ed but I figured this is already OT enough. Have fun & watch that PCV system (wasn't 66 the 1st year for it on Fords?).B
"FYI The popular mew HONDA Ridgeline's mileage is EPA estimated to be 16 / 21. The Toyota/Lexus LX SUV is EPA rated at 13/17. Wanna bet not every Honda truck & Toyota SUV customer is towing horse trailers or needing to off-road through wilderness? Don't be surprised to see these in the nearest strip-mall."You miss the point completely. I was just using the Navigator as an example of an SUV so the actual mpg could be looked up and cross referenced. I wasn't attacking Ford or GM, I was making a point about our consumption as Americans. Yes, I have noticed the barage of TOYOTA, HONDA, AND NISSSAN TRUCKS AND SUVS coming to America. I suppose I could have listed an SUV from every manufacturer to satisfy your sensitive side.We face dire consequences. I was just posting to spark some debate. To get people to think and to wake up.Ford as the villan? You mean the same company that has seen their crown vic's explode or their firestone equipped SUVS flip over.I suppose I could have compared SUVS to SUV.The Ford Escape vs. the Ford Escape hybrid."Ya gotta pick your battles in life.."I know and this is one battle that is definitely worth fighting.
Anyway I think the questions are more of what is driving NEW vehicle purchase decisions and in what direction. I don't think we'll see any increasingly rare vintage muscle cars etc being dumped like we did in the early to mid 70's. Likewise I'd be surprised if we see a glut of H3's being replaced by Priuses by those owners.-Of course not. Different uses, and tiny light weight cars benefit the least (relatively speaking) from the hybrid momentum recapture systems. However, if those Hummers got replaced by new Hybrid SUV's, you would see a dramatic effect on energy consumption with relatively little change in driving habits. A link from an earlier thread shows a Mariner hybrid getting 38 MPG around town. A comparable non hybrid gets about 13 MPG city? That's a threefold savings. This is what's always struck me as somewhat strange about the current situation with Ford and GM vis a vis hybrids- SUV's are going to benefit the most from hybrid tech. Given their dependence on large car sales, why aren't Ford and GM throwing everything they've got at developing hybrid tech for their large vehicles?? The higher price tag of these cars will also hide some of the added expense of the hybrid system, and since the fuel savings are greater, the added up front cost is easier to justify...I really do find this somewhat baffling. Few people need an untra tiny mini that'll get 100 MPG vs. 40 with a plain old gas engine because the sacrifice in size and comfort isn't justifiable given the savings. But an SUV that gets 40 MPG is KILLER and ought to sell like hot cakes and that's already Ford's market. So, with all that said, how are the new Hybrid SUV's selling? Does the market bear out my assumptions?
""This is what's always struck me as somewhat strange about the current situation with Ford and GM vis a vis hybrids- SUV's are going to benefit the most from hybrid tech.""As I see it certain driving cycles benifit most from hybrid tech. I have friends that live close to me on Chicago's northwest side. They work downtown and have about an 11 mile commute. It takes them on average about 55 minutes by expressway to get there. Trafic always crawls and is stop and go into the city. I work in the northern burbs and travel 22 miles it usually takes me about 30-35 minutes. For my friends are considering an Escape hybrid the next time around and it will probably save them quite a bit on their commute. For me I have a small amount of low impact city driving, the rest highway. A hybrid would do little for me as I would be running on the gas motor most of the time. Probably the best case would be in a multiple car family to have 1 hybrid and focus on using that whenever short trips and stop and go driving is the dominating factor, driving the kids, shopping, etc.
""But are you driving it an hour a day to & from work daily? I would hope not. Average commutes are pretty long for too many to be tanking up thirst 7 liter boats.""No I've put on about 20000 miles in 20 years. But unlike some of the Humvee owners I didn't buy it for that purpose so an occasional $75 tank of gas doesn't really bother me. The added cost of going with a roller cam etc. will probably never pay itself off but it's enough extra reason that I will consider more than I would have in the past."watch that PCV system (wasn't 66 the 1st year for it on Fords" Not sure about the first year but mine does have it.
Recommendations: 0 "You miss the point completely."Perhaps you presented it poorly. <shrug>" I suppose I could have listed an SUV from every manufacturer to satisfy your sensitive side."Or you could have cited ones adding new gas guzzlers to their lineups (Toyota et al) rather than just one trying to diversify from them. Consider your audience - this is a Ford investing board. Funny how you're admittedly trying to "spark debate" yet call responses my "sensitive side" when I find bias and a lack of clarity in your presentation."We face dire consequences."Don't we always. You're saying this on an investing board for a company that is struggling for profitable product solutions. Talk about dire - people's retirement and jobs can be pretty dire issues to them. Perhaps one of the other wildly successful auto manufacturing investor's sites might be a better audience but as I reread your post I still see nothing but a ramble about SUV fuel costs."I was just posting to spark some debate. To get people to think and to wake up."But this isn't new news not thought of or being slept on. And you used fuel cost as the crowbar not some other ethical point (which may be just as idealistic over practical). I already pointed out that those you probably want to lobby don't care - they're gonna do what they want <shrug> I mean do you really think you're raising new points or just offering a confusing message - go read your sparking post - all it says is that SUVs costs their owners more money for consumed fuel:http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=24112589Seriously - reread it and tell me you didn't only point out an argument to save money.Do you really think they (or we) don't know this? Perhaps the call to goes back at ya - Wake up: It's a free market like it or not and if people want to spend more on fuel and you want to stop it then you're gonna have to talk to the legislature about gas taxes not the battered Ford investors losing their shirts."Ford as the villan? You mean the same company that has seen their crown vic's explode"If we can't stick to the topic or your examples being biased then I'll have to reply that this is somewhat an OT cheap-shot. And FWIW though SOME CV's burned WHEN RAMMED AT HIGWAY SPEEDS from behind and their fuel tanks are breached. That's a lot of really horrible circumstances and ones that not even municipalities cared enough about to ensure higher safety at the related financial cost. There has never been a rule or warranty that says mass market vehicles subjected to such trauma will 100% be predictable - NHTSA collision tests aren't even done at such speeds. To ensure race car like failure predictability, or approaching that, cost much more money than municipalities are willing to pay for (otherwise they would have installed race craft fuel cells & filler tubes by their own custom outfitters that mod the vehicles for their needs - the Crown Vic problem wasn't exclusive to CV's nor were such vehicle problems a secret)."or their firestone equipped SUVS flip over."Well ya gotta help them if you want them to flip. Another unrelated cheap point but FWIW I still drive one of those SUVs and was satisfied with Car & Drivers tests on them and this issue. Despite the anecdotal reports I, and many others, found Firestons's were a great tire (I got over 34K out of mine - on an SUV!) and the ones in question were changed in spec by Firestone not by Ford. As for flipping - even ground hugging Corvetts will flip when pushed. I'd argue we've learned a lot about how to drive high center of gravity vehicles - some learned the the hard way about Newton's laws and common sense (tire inflation, overloaded vehicles, worn shocks, high speed maneuvers that are dangerous etc). In a study of the issue Car and Driver beat on that model Explorer and they found them difficult to make unstable - I saw the results/videos - did you? It's all relative and the Explorer was the most popular SUV int he world so it's exposure was very high. Did you see the PBS Frontline coverage of the topic?http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/rollover/etc/before.htmlNote this part "Q: Is the Ford Explorer more rollover-prone than the dozens of other SUVs? A: No. According to federal data and safety ratings, the four-door Explorer's rollover record is pretty typical of midsize SUVs." Again you can pic your sources but in the end sources like wikipedia repeat the NHSTA findings with "(Ford) pointed out that tires manufactured by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to the same specification had a spotless safety record when installed on the Explorer. Ford's conclusions were confirmed by NHTSA in their report into the tire failures, published in October 2001.Many outside observers tend towards blaming both parties; Firestone's tires being prone to tread separation and failure, and the Explorer being especially prone to rolling over if a tire fails at speed compared to other vehicles. However, a subsequent NHTSA investigation of real world accident data showed that the Ford Explorer was no more likely to roll over than any other SUV." Evil? Hardly - more like typical...and btw google "Toyota safety problems" or similar and you'll find plenty of non Ford car company problems out there and the way they're dealt with non ideal at best (I'll spare you the ones that cropped up). I'm not lobbying for sainthood of Ford managers but I do think the company's products are a conveneint example of problems including poor gas mileage as in your post."I suppose I could have compared SUVS to SUV. The Ford Escape vs. the Ford Escape hybrid."I suppose. I'm not sure what your point is - saving fuel money or lessening dependance on foreign fuel or some other point (you never once spelled out that other point if that was your intention)."Ya gotta pick your battles in life.."I know and this is one battle that is definitely worth fighting."Perhaps you should clarify what you're fighting.Again I'll be happy to drive a Prius or vespa if you'll supply one cause I'm not fond of high fuel costs any more than I am of having to drive a 9 year old SUV when I don't need the cargo space or to tow. I hope while educating and waking up the rest of us you're driving your car conservatively in the righter lanes, driving it only when absolutely necessry, carpooling, accelerating slowly, getting tune ups regularly, keeping those tires to the pound of ideal pressure, and all the other things you can afford to do.As a project soar scout and Mass liberal I'll do my part too - as long as it's practical. B
Be free thinkers.rorsheyI commend your enthusiasm. My wife and I dropped the SUV from the driveway four years ago, the gas consumption being one reason. Of course, the campaign then was WWJD - What would Jesus Drive? That one I liked, but the logical and real answer went against the underlying campaign, didn't it. (Skip to the end if you can't wait.)The truth is, the American consumer is not just a flock of sheep. It is as diverse as the 300 plus automobile/truck choices on the market. And I don't blame F or GM for providing the American public what it wanted - trucks and SUVs. But to blame them for that is wrong. The government didn't raise CAFE standards for years. And Toyota and Honda and Nissan have just built or are about to build truck plants in North America. Each and every automaker is selling SUVs and full sized pick-ups with comparable mileage.Gas has doubled in 18 months or so. No automaker can put a car out that quickly (well, Mazda allegedly did the Miata in that time frame, but that is the exception and not the rule.) So, in three to four years, you can judge F and GM on the mileage issue to see if they have captured the American public and filled their needs. The price increase in oil wasn't un-foreseen - the dramatic price increase was. So, they are all caught flat-footed. Don't think the Fit and the Scions were introduced in anticipation of the oil pricing -- they were introduced to balance the CAFE standards to accomodate the expected increase in SUV and full-size pick-up sales. Don't blame the automakers for making what we want to buy. So, rorshey -- spread the word, preach conservation and mileage and all that goes with it. America may catch on -- probably not until $5 bucks a gallon though IMHO. And be patient. It will take 14 years or so after we decide to consume less gas to replace the current gas guzzlers. I do spread the work, in my own way, though - without the prostelyzing, and the CAPS, etc. with the understanding that some people do need bigger vehicles and with the understanding that change takes time - most cannot sell and buy a vehicle in an instant. If they can, they may be likely to upgrade the fuel economy and downsize the vehicle. Encourage them to do so. But please, phillipo was right - look where you're posting a Ford investment board. You've been here awhile - the posters and lurkers know a little about the issues -- or they wouldn't be here. And I think we all agree we need to consume less gasoline and move on. And that is the first start. We'll see if Ford can get fill that need in 09 and forward. Until then, heck these SUVs are getting mighty cheap. (Irony.)T. AllanAnd for my answer to WWJD? An old F-150. I have yet to see a carpenter drive anything else.
Does anybody out there have the FACTS on how much energy it takes to produce a gallon of ethanol?I've heard and read it takes as much energy to "produce" as it "provides". Not very likely-----but it certainly and obviously takes energy to produce it. How much? Does all of the "hype" on this subject take this fact into real consideration? Doubt it!crpurdum
I'm attaching a post to address crpurdum's request that I previously ran on a subscription board. The "meat" of the conversion rate is near the end. Looks like you need a good feedstock. Corn is inefficient since you convert starch to sugar to ethanol (as opposed to sugar cane that is more direct and with higher yield:Article from Business Week Online: <<Apologies for long post>>Ethanol: A Tragedy in 3 Acts BusinessWeek Online 04/27/06 by Ed Wallace ---------------------------------------------------------------During the comment period for the RFG (reformulated gas) program, supporters of ethanol had argued that the volatile organic compound (VOC) emission standards in the program -- 42 U. S. C. 7545 (k) (3) (B) (i) -- would preclude the use of ethanol in RFG because adding ethanol to gasoline increases its volatility and raises VOC emissions, especially in the summertime.BackgroundThe American Petroleum Institute v. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Docket #94-1502 (Heard by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and decided on April 28, 1995))If there were ever a time when the truth in advertising standards should be put back into place, it's now -- during the current (third) attempt to convince the public that the massive use of corn-derived ethanol in our gasoline supply will alleviate our need for foreign oil. Ultimately, the answer to just one question determines ethanol's actual usefulness as a gasoline extender: If the government hadn't mandated this product, would it survive in a free market? Doubtful -- but the misinformation superhighway has been rerouted to convince the public its energy salvation is at hand.Act I, Scenes 1 and 2The use of ethanol to reduce our dependence on foreign oil is nothing new. We also considered it during our nation's Project Independence in 1974, the year after the first Arab oil embargo. After the second energy crisis in 1979, an income tax credit of 40 cents per gallon of 190-proof ethanol produced was instituted as an incentive for refiners of ethanol to blend this product into gasoline.Because this federal largesse now existed, within five years, 163 ethanol plants had been built -- but only 74 of them were still in operation. As gasoline availability opened up in the 1980s and gas prices went down, many ethanol plants simply went out of business.Shortly thereafter, in yet another attempt to broaden the product's usage, Congress enacted a law that allowed car manufacturers to take excess mileage credits on any vehicle they built that was capable of burning an 85% blend of ethanol, better known as E85. General Motors (NYSE:GM - News) took advantage of the credits, building relatively large volumes of the Suburban as a certified E85 vehicle. Although in real life that generation of the Suburban got less than 15 mpg, the credits it earned GM against its Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) ratings meant that on paper, the Suburban delivered more than 29 mpg.Other manufacturers also built E85-capable vehicles -- one such car was the Ford (NYSE:F - News) Taurus. Congress may have intended simply to create a market for this particular fuel by having these vehicles available for sale. But what the excess mileage credits actually did was save Detroit millions each year in penalties it would have owed for not meeting the CAFE regulations' mileage standards.Act II, Scenes 1 and 2In the mid-'90s the Clean Air Act of 1990 kicked in, mandating that a reformulated gasoline be sold in the nation's smoggiest cities. So the Clinton Administration again tried to create an ethanol industry in America, by having the Environmental Protection Agency mandate that fully 30% of the oxygenates to be used in gasoline under that program come from a renewable source. But members of the American Petroleum Institute had already geared up for the production of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), their oxygenate of choice. The ensuing lawsuit was argued before the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on February 16, 1995.The EPA took the position that it had been given a mandate to find ways to conserve the nation's fossil-fuel reserves, so it needed a renewable fuel -- and ethanol neatly fit that bill. But there were problems with that argument, not least of which was the fact that the judges could find no charter or mandate from Congress that gave the EPA the statutory right to do anything about fossil fuel, reserves or otherwise.Even more damaging, the EPA's own attorney admitted to the judges that because of its higher volatility, putting ethanol into the nation's fuel supply would likely increase smog where it was used. One of the judges, on hearing that the EPA was actively promoting a substance that could in fact diminish air quality, wondered aloud, Is the EPA in outer space?The final decision favored the American Petroleum Institute. The judges agreed that the EPA was bound by law only to promote items that would improve air quality -- not to reverse the nation's advances in smog reduction. That decision was apparently forgotten with record speed. In the summer of 2000, ethanol as an additive was mandated for the upper Midwest, including the city of Chicago and parts of the state of Wisconsin.Act II, Scenes 3 and 4After Asian economies had collapsed in the late '90s, the price of oil had fallen to as low as $10 a barrel. Gasoline was selling in many parts of the U.S. for as little as 99 cents a gallon. But by 2000, the per-barrel price had risen to $32, and gas was averaging $1.55 a gallon nationally. As they are today, the nation's drivers were incensed by the rising prices of gasoline and oil. And then reformulated gasoline made with ethanol hit Chicago and points north. Gas prices there suddenly soared over $2.00, with a few stations selling their product for as much as $2.54 per gallon.At some stations in southeast Wisconsin, where reformulated gasoline wasn't required and gas cost considerably less, pumps ran dry in the panic, as savvy consumers topped off their tanks. Citing the Lundberg Survey, the Associated Press on June 12, 2000, stated, Dealers in the Midwest, where many cities use a reformulated gas blended with the corn derivative ethanol, are paying a premium at wholesale.Just a few months later, Brazil -- which had worked toward energy independence since the mid-'70s oil crisis and had already mandated that the percentage of ethanol in its fuel be raised to 24% -- was forced to import ethanol refined by the Archer Daniels Midland Co. (NYSE:ADM - News) when the nation's sugar-cane crop suffered a devastating drought. Brazil understood that a year of poor crops was just as damaging to its national fuel supply as Iran taking its oil off-market would be to the rest of the world.Then came the third act in this ethanol play -- and possibly the most misleading and disingenuous PR campaign ever.Act III: Cue the Fact-CheckerIt started with Congress, which mandated that even more ethanol be used to extend the nation's fuel supply. From General Motors, an ad campaign called Live Green, Go Yellow gave America the impression that by purchasing GM vehicles capable of using E85 ethanol, we could help reduce our dependence on foreign oil.What GM left out of its ads was that the use of this fuel would likely increase the amount of smog during the summer months (as the EPA's own attorneys had admitted in 1995) -- and that using E85 in GM products would lower their fuel efficiency by as much as 25%. (USA Today recently reported that the Energy Dept. estimated the drop in mileage at 40%.)But one final setup for the public has gone unnoticed. At the Web site, www.fueleconomy.gov, which confirms the 25% to 30% drop in mileage resulting from the use of this blended fuel, another feature lets users calculate and compare annual fuel costs using regular gasoline to costs using E85.But the government site's automatic calculations are based on E85 selling for 37 cents per gallon less than regular gasoline, when the USA Today article reports that at many stations in the Midwest E85 is actually selling for 13 cents per gallon more than ordinary gas. Using the corrected prices for both gasoline and E85, the annual cost of fueling GM's Suburban goes from $2,709 to $3,763. Hence the suggestion that truth in advertising should come back into play. Possibly GM could rename this ad campaign Shell Out Green, Turn Yellow.Epilogue: Get this Wasteful Show Off the RoadThe other negative aspect of this inefficient fuel is that numerous studies have found that ethanol creates less energy than is required to make it. Other studies have found that ethanol creates slightly more energy than is used in its production. Yet not one of these studies takes into account that when E85 is used, the vehicle's fuel efficiency drops by at least 25% -- and possibly by as much as 40%. Using any of the accredited studies as a baseline in an energy-efficiency equation, ethanol when used as a fuel is a net energy waste.Furthermore, no one has even considered the severe disruption in the nation's fuel distribution that mandating a move into ethanol would cause. Over the past month, gas stations from Dallas to Philadelphia and parts of Massachusetts have had their tanks run dry due to a lack of ethanol to blend. The newswires have been filled with stories bemoaning the shortage of trucks, drivers, railcars, and barges to ship the product. Ethanol can't be blended at refineries and pumped through the nation's gasoline pipelines.The recent price spikes for gasoline have forcibly reminded the people of Chicago and Wisconsin of what happened when ethanol was forced on them during the summer of 2000. Moreover, the promise of energy independence that Brazil has explored through ethanol is widely misunderstood. Recently a Brazilian official, commenting on our third and most recent attempted conversion to ethanol, said that when Brazil tried using agricultural crops for ethanol, it achieved only a 1:1.20 energy conversion rate, too low to be worth the effort.Final Bow?On the other hand, ethanol from sugar cane delivered 1:8 energy conversion, which met the national mandate. Unfortunately for us, sugar cane isn't a viable crop in the climate of our nation's heartland. But the part of Brazil's quest for energy independence that the media usually overlooks is that ethanol wasn't the only fuel source the country was working on: Its other, more important, thrust was to find more oil. To that end, last week Brazil's P50 offshore oil platform was turned on. Its anticipated daily output is high enough to make Brazil totally oil independent. More smog, infinitely worse gas mileage, huge problems in distribution, and skyrocketing prices for gasoline. Maybe now that we're witnessing the third act in America's ethanol play, the upcoming epilogue will close this show forever. Even great advertising works only if the product does. Rob
being in the food dist. business we hear that soybeans etc... have been going up due to fears of supply strain if the ethanol thing pans out.Good luck with that ethanol in the northern areas during the winter.Doesn't evaporate as easily as gasoline. Perhaps injection has rememdied this. Read the evap. thing a long time ago.
This is an interesting article in popular mechanics:http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/2690341.htmlIt compares Gasoline, E85, M85, B100, CNG, Electricity and Hydrogen Fuel Cells, in terms of what it takes to produce each of them, how expensive they are, how much pollution that cause, and how likely they are to be a widely used alternative fuel in the future.I found it one of the more interesting articles I've run across on alternative fuels. It is centered around the idea of driving 7 different production vehicles from New York to California, and comparing the fuel costs.Ford got two entries into the article: a 2005 Taurus that runs on E85 and a 1998 Taurus that runs on M85. Those two fuels are the second and third most expensive currently (to the consumer), after hydrogen fuel cells.I found CNG the most surprising. It is effectively nearly pollution free: "Honda's currently available Civic GX Sedan has an exhaust that's cleaner than the air in some high pollution area's"
Geezer: Long---but worth while.Another bucket full of politics (e85 vs. reality).crpurdum
"Does anybody out there have the FACTS on how much energy it takes to produce a gallon of ethanol?I've heard and read it takes as much energy to "produce" as it "provides". Not very likely-----but it certainly and obviously takes energy to produce it. How much? Does all of the "hype" on this subject take this fact into real consideration? Doubt it!crpurdum"At what point does one start to measure? It's not like corn plants, fertilizes, & irrigates itself....then again it's not like oil is cheap to find or fight over and that's before refining. Course we're told Canadian oil sands are now considered competitive in today's market. Wringing four barrels of crude oil from the sands requires burning the equivalent of a fifth barrel - and that's just to get the crude equivalent.Not sure but I'll read sbcondor's PM article.B
Thanks for the article Rob. I saw this today:Doesn't producing ethanol on a large scale use a great deal of energy?Yes. Some ethanol skeptics have even argued that the process involved in growing grain and then transforming it into ethanol requires more energy from fossil fuels than ethanol generates. In other words, they say the whole movement is a farce.There's no absolute consensus in the scientific community, but that argument is losing strength. Michael Wang, a scientist at the Energy Department-funded Argonne National Laboratory for Transportation Research, says "The energy used for each unit of ethanol produced has been reduced by about half [since 1980]." Now, Wang says, the delivery of 1 million British thermal units of ethanol uses 0.74 million BTUs of fossil fuels. (That does not include the solar energy -- the sun shining -- used in growing corn.) By contrast, he finds that the delivery of 1 million BTUs of gasoline requires 1.23 million BTU of fossil fuels. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12872060/I love the parenthetical explanation that the energy calculation does not include the solar energy - implying that other calcs would and that is why they are so high. This issue has become too politicized and rhetoric-laced. The best I can believe is that Ethanol has less energy, will require more fuel than gasoline, and costs more than the oil in the ground. However, if we keep on with our liquid fuel infrastructure, the peak oil - and eventual end of oil will have to be replaced. Build it now? Go to electric? I say do both. T. Allan
"However, if we keep on with our liquid fuel infrastructure, the peak oil - and eventual end of oil will have to be replaced. Build it now? Go to electric? I say do both."It took me quite a while to come to the same conclusion. I just think it's the expedient thing to do to wean ourselves (the industrialized world, actually) from dependency on a bunch of corrupt and/or politically unreliable regimes.Let's do it! We just need the right leadership from our leadership.Still waiting, Rob
Please do not expect the end of OIL to come any time soon. "OIL" and "BIG OIL" are going to be with us for a long long time despite of the hype and prices to be between $48 - $55 per barrel. PHOINIX20 The Eternal Bird
"Please do not expect the end of OIL to come any time soon."I don't think anyone reasonable expects that at all - the question is one of how or if we'll scale back at being at the mercy of it's suppliers. It appears it will take some work (or continued legilation to subsadize) before E85 will be a significant substitute for our current demands which then of course leads to the other recent topic - how to reduce our demand."OIL" and "BIG OIL" are going to be with us for a long long timedespite of the hype and prices to be between $48 - $55 per barrel."What hype? As for what prices are "to be" I think we've all seen that there's a new plateau of price that the market will bear.... unless you can argue China and other increasing competition for resources is about to go away it's a sellers market.What I learned in this long thread is that Canadian oil is now dollar wise competitive but dirty business envrionmentally, somewaht like ethanol, which reminds us there is no substitute for conservation. No big shocker there.FWIW Just learned this morning that openwheel racing (IRL or ChampCar - not sure) is going %100 Eth in 07 (is %90 Meth %10 Eth this year).So there's some E85 promotion at work by some lobby/sponsors. Interesting.B
Good grief - excuse the spelling (tired).B
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