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Ford, Toyota, and other automakers say that using E15 can void warranties and lead to early engine death.  (Source: Team BHP)

GM is the only major U.S. automaker to support the plan.  (Source: AP Photo)
New proposal would allow up to 15 percent ethanol in fuel

Corn ethanol is dead, long live corn ethanol.  That's the message that the United States Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson seemingly sent when her agency proposed allowing blends of up to 15 percent ethanol at the pump.  The proposal comes just weeks after Congress repealed the $5.6B USD federal subsidy for corn ethanol.

I. E15: Killing Your Autos, One Engine at a Time

Automakers are outraged at the proposal.  Ford Motor Company (F) and Toyota Motor Company (TYO:7203) led the coalition of the unwilling.

In letters to House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming's ranking Republican member, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (Milwaukee - Wisc.), the automakers rip the plan, which they say will likely void vehicle owners' warranties.

While the EPA promises to use a special orange and black label at the pumps where E15 fuel is being vended, officials at Ford and Toyota fear that won't be enough warning for customers.  They point out that most gasoline engines aren’t designed to use ethanol, which can cause excessive engine wear and engine failure.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has criticized the U.S. government's financial support of corn ethanol.  Mr. Mulally indicates that he would like to see the government instead exclusively support electrified vehicles.

Chrysler LLC also opposed the plan to allow E15 at the pump.  Writes Jody Trapasso, Chrysler external affairs SVP, "While Chrysler has been a strong advocate of renewable fuels, we have concerns about the potential harmful effects of E15 in engines and fuel systems that were not designed for use of that fuel."

In response to the letters, Rep. Sensenbrenner has fired off a letter of his own to Ms. Jackson at the EPA, warning about the engine damage and telling her, "In difficult economic times, consumers need to get more miles from a gallon of gas and extend the lives of their cars."

II. EPA: Problem? What Problem?

The EPA defended the proposal claiming that research by the U.S. Department of Energy showed E15 to be safe to run on engines produced after 2001.  They claim the DOE extensively verified "any increase would not have an adverse impact."

The statement continues, "The administration will continue to take steps, guided by science and the law, to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and increase our use of home-grown fuels."

Clearly the two sides don't see eye to eye here.  The automakers, who actually engineered the cars, say E15 will destroy engines of vehicles produced since 2001.  But the EPA and DOE claim to have secret insight that the automakers don't, arguing the vehicles will be just fine.

Besides Ford, Toyota, and Chrysler, the other dissenting parties included Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (ETR:BMW); Daimler AG (ETR:DAI)’s Mercedes Benz; Honda Motor Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7267); Hyundai Motor Comp. (SEO:005380); Kia Motors Corp. (SEO:000270); Mazda Motor Corp. (TYO:7261); Nissan Motor Comp., Ltd. (TYO:7201); Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW); and Volvo Car Corp., owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Comp.

Noticeably absent among the protesters is General Motors Comp. (GM).  GM was the chief supporter of ethanol fuel vehicles.  Most of its lineup consists of FlexFuel vehicles, which can run on ethanol or gasoline.

The EPA may bend to the will of the industry -- after all, just weeks ago it cut the mandatory amount of ethanol in fuel blends to the lowest level in three years.

 



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RE: To be clear
By tng on 7/6/2011 11:51:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Americans could just as easily do the same, but they are too uninformed to get upset about this or too lazy....
And you would be the expert why? Have I met you before and you know my work ethic or those of my neighbors?

Again you come from the world that I see everyday, a large metro area. It shows that you really think that riding the bus or the train is something that everybody could do instead of driving. Not the case in the US.

I find most of your posts informing, but on this one you hit the bottom. One of the most moronic posts ever.


RE: To be clear
By Iaiken on 7/6/2011 2:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Again you come from the world that I see everyday, a large metro area.


It depends largely on the city, Toronto is easy, and in most cases, it is faster to drive just to the GO train or Subway, park for free and then boot around town that way. Same when I am in NYC. Houston and LA are interesting in that they have public transit, but it is so horrible that even a miserable drive through insane traffic is better than riding the bus.

Maybe it's not possible for most people, but if nobody even bothers to try, then it's certainly not.


RE: To be clear
By tng on 7/6/2011 3:06:45 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Maybe it's not possible for most people, but if nobody even bothers to try, then it's certainly not.
I understand, but unlike the North East US, there are vast areas in the West where things have spread out to the point that it becomes very hard to bike to work or even have mass public transport.

The problem as I see it is that as you get closer to the center of a urban area where the jobs are, the prices for housing rises to the point where driving is cheaper than housing.


RE: To be clear
By Nfarce on 7/6/11, Rating: -1
"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner














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