posted on Mar, 6 2007 @ 02:31 AM
I'm not exactly bought on E85 just yet, though I will admit i'm not terribly familiar with it. Although it supposedly reduces our "foreign need"
for oil (isn't alot of the ethanol made in Brazil?), take a look at the fuel economy ratings for gasoline engines vs E85 vehicles at fueleconomy.gov
2007 Chevrolet Suburban
mpg city 11 15
mpg highway 15 20
2007 Chevy Impala
mpg city 16 21
mpg highway 23 31
EPA fuel ratings are quite a bit worse for E85 vehicles. It is noteworthy, however, that the site also says that the E85 suburban, at 2400 dollars a
year in the fuel, will burn 8 barrels of petrol per year, whereas a gasoline Suburban, at 2000 dollars a year, will burn 20 barrels of petrol. While
it certainly does not benefit the consumer, it benefits oil usage.
However, does anyone know how many cars, factories, boats, ATVs, and millions of other oil using vehicles and machines would have to be converted to
E85 in order to actually put a dent in oil consumption? Quite a few. I read a statistic somewhere that if even a quarter of our cars ran on E85, it
would reduce oil usage by a small fraction.
IMO, ethanol is just a way for the American auto companies to get tax breaks. Their vehicles seem more fuel efficient in the eyes of the EPA, since
they technically do use less petrol, but do they truly benefit the consumer at all?
Hybrids, diesel gas, and E85 fuel are nice stop gaps that may reduce needs for oil, but look at what's going on. Americans are still chosing full
size trucks and SUVs and not using them to tow, haul, or offroad. I drive into suburban neighborhoods and see that soccer moms are transporting their
kids in 6000 lb Ford Excursions that aren't even rated for gas mileage. I see that GM still doesn't really try to build a good small car (they
import some from South Korea? nice try), and still focus mainly on their full size trucks and SUVs - yet people complain that Toyota is taking over,
who has made 40 mpg cars for years. Aside from all this, it is projected that in the coming decades, India and China will drive more cars than
America does. Wonder what that will do to overall oil consumption?
Oil companies don't want us to find new technologies. Oil will run out someday, but this can be debated all day in the peak oil forum. No idea
when, but it will eventually, and gas prices continue to rise, and wars continue to be waged in the Middle East. Can you imagine how many problems an
alternative energy source, IE Hydrogen, could answer? Now yeah yeah hydrogen has its drawbacks - requiring energy to harvest it, riding around in
cars w/ 15,000 psi fuel tanks, etc. But come on. The big companies need to focus more on alternative sources. At least Honda has a working car,
though it is darned expensive, and who knows what an accident would do to it.
As bad as it sounds, some day oil in the US will be like it has been in Europe. Aside from the horrible inflation it would cause, I'd be curious to
see what kind of innovation this country could really produce when gasoline prices reach 5, 7,10,etc, dollars per gallon at the pump. Maybe then we
could really see new technologies come out faster.
On a sidenote; before I get some of the expected "tree loving hippie" bs- despite my opinions, I myself drive a full size SUV when I need to; and
before I get called a hypocrite, I actually use it to tow boats and cargo around. Just my opinion that these stopgap hybrids, E85, etc, while nice,
won't solve the real problem of oil usage in the long run.