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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  The proposal comes just weeks after Congress repealed the $5.6B USD federal subsidy for corn ethanol.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 Shinobisan on 7/6/2011 12:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
You seem to be quoting real facts... but they just don't hold up to reality. 15% Ethanol will destroy an aluminum engine in 17,000 km? (and why are we talking km? this is an american law isn't it?) 17,000 km = 10,563 miles.
And they destroy fuel pumps at a rate of 2/year?
Ask yourself... have I - or do I know ANYONE - that has replaced a fuel pump in the last year? Let alone 2 pump EACH year?
Every drop of gasoline in Minnesota contains 10% Ethanol. Do the motorists in Minnesota buy 50 times more fuel pumps? Nope.
Why are you trying to scare us? With all these dumb "facts"? Really. I'm not buying it.

RE: To be clear
By Iaiken on 7/6/2011 2:09:55 PM , Rating: 3
You seem to be mixing up the facts I am quoting for a specific test by BMW for a specific fuel pump and trying to expand it to ALL fuel pumps. Don't be retarded.

BMW research showed that the High Pressure Fuel pump used in in the N54 would reliably fail after an average 17,000 km under the use of 91 octane that was 15% ethanol. As such, they responded by offering a warranty extension to 190,000km in the US/Canada. They have since recalled the old pumps to replace them with a new one that was redesigned in early 2011.

and why are we talking km? this is an american law isn't it

Because the findings by BMW were in German, they use KM and I was too lazy to bother converting them. If you can't do mile-km or vice versa in your head by now then you're a bloody idiot.

Why are you trying to scare us?

I am not trying to scare you, I am demonstrating that it is an established fact that ethanol blended fuel does significant damage to cars that were not designed for it.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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