The network of ethanol-dispensing stations must be greatly expanded for General Motors Co.'s fleet of vehicles that run on ethanol-gasoline blends to have any impact on the goal to cut emissions and reduce US dependence on foreign oil, according to GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens said.
At the Renewable Fuels Association conference, Stephens revealed that about 50% of GM's vehicle lineup will be able to run on E85, a mix of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol, by the 2012 model year. Stephens added that with GM spending about $100 million each year and adding flex-fuel capability to its vehicles, it simply can't afford to leave this capital stranded.
Up to $70 is added to the production cost of each car if it's given the capability to run on E85. Coleman Jones, GM biofuel implementation manager, said that to date, GM has produced 4 million of the 7.5 million flex-fuel vehicles in the US.
GM has been working closely with the National Governor's Association and ethanol producers and dispensers to add 350 more ethanol-blend pumps in the US.
Stephens said that GM would be open to getting federal government assistance to fund the expansion of the network. Currently, there are 2,200 ethanol fuel stations, which he says is not enough. About two-thirds of that figure is found in 10 states.
The problem stems from the fact that only 19% of the flex-fuel vehicles that are on the road are found in these 10 states. It's also no coincidence that these 10 states are in the US Midwest, the heart of corn production in the US. Ethanol in the US is sourced dominantly from corn. [via autonews]