Bioenergy, Grid Scale

New Partnership for Ethanol Vehicles

General Motors Corp. announced a new, multi-million dollar campaign to promote the use of corn-based ethanol fuel E85 as an alternative to gasoline.

Charlotte, North Carolina – March 14, 2003 [] The public awareness effort is a 2-year partnership with the non-profit National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) focused on increasing ethanol use in flexible fuel vehicles. Flexible fuel vehicles are designed to use either ethanol or gasoline; E85 Flexible Fuel Vehicles can be powered by gasoline or a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. “The limited number of ethanol fueling stations available – about 140 in 22 primarily Midwestern states – make it a challenge for people to utilize this alternative fuel source,” said Phil Lampert, executive director of the NEVC. “We believe this effort will help increase the use of ethanol, which will benefit the environment and help reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil.” The ethanol promotion effort, announced at the NEVC annual meeting, will begin in six key states: Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois. The campaign will include a variety of tactics, including information made available to customers at dealerships, direct mail, advertising and on-line activities. Ethanol is alcohol that is currently made from domestically produced corn. It costs about the same and delivers performance similar to regular gasoline. Throughout the past 5 years, the demand for E85 has increased ten-fold to about 10 million gallons a year. “Every gallon of ethanol used reduces our reliance on foreign oil,” said Phil Lampert. “Our hope is that by increasing awareness we can help solve the chicken and egg problem – spurring more market demand which will lead to more fueling stations, and ultimately, more E85 vehicles on the road.” Today, ethanol made from corn reduces the demand for imported oil by 98,000 barrels per day — representing a .1 billion reduction in the U.S. trade deficit. In the future, production of ethanol can come from bio-mass such as corn and wheat stalks and forestry waste. Ethanol is an alternative to imported petroleum because it is made from renewable resources and it does not deplete petroleum energy supplies. “E85 alternative fuel is only beginning to become available in many areas,” said Gary Herwick, director of alternative fuels for General Motors. “Working together, we can make a difference when it comes to alternative fuels.” “These vehicles are just one example of an entire range of technologies we have developed to eventually remove the automobile from the environmental debate,” said Elizabeth Lowery, GM’s vice president for environment and energy. “In the long term, our goal is to replace the internal combustion engine entirely with a hydrogen powered fuel cell, but until such time that the technology is commercially viable, we are working to improve fuel efficiency on a variety of fronts.” Other fuel-saving technologies currently available include continuously variable transmissions and Displacement on Demand. Displacement of Demand saves fuel by deactivating half the engine’s cylinders in light-duty conditions. In 2004, GM will introduce its first hybrid vehicles, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Flexpower, powered by an electric battery and a gasoline internal combustion engine. Eleven other hybrid models come to market in the next several years.