The flex-fuel movement really began with the 1994 Ford Taurus, whose on-board computer told the engine how to distinguish between gasoline and higher ethanol blends. Pretty cool, right? Except for the part about it being a Taurus. Read more
There are 19 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road in the United States, including 1 million in California alone. We’re going to venture out on a limb and guess that the vast majority of people who own those vehicles don’t know what “flex-fuel” means. So let us offer you a primer!
There are 250 million vehicles on the road in the United States, and some 19 million of them are flex-fuel. For those of you thinking “Ugh, math,” that’s 1 out of every 13 vehicles!
My 2000 Toyota Camry, amazing and durable as it is, does not fit the technical definition of a flex-fuel vehicle. I dusted off my owner’s manual, and nowhere in its 268 pages is ethanol mentioned. The only guidance is: “Your new vehicle must use only unleaded gasoline.”
Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles might be the cars of the future. In fact, to recycle an old joke (because here at Fuel Freedom we’re big on recycling), FCVs might forever be the cars of the future.
We did some quick math here at Fuel Freedom Foundation, and we can say, without hesitation, that there are thousands of flex-fuel vehicles on the road in Sacramento and its environs.
Attention soccer moms in your GMC Yukons, and dads in your Chevy Silverados and Ford F-150s! This is a deal you can’t afford to miss.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 12, five gas stations in the Sacramento area will sell E85 ethanol fuel for 85 cents a gallon, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. See what they did there? E85 all over the place!
Here are the five participating stations:
- Shell: 5103 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael, CA 95608
- Shell: 730 29th Street, Sacramento, CA 95816
- Shell: 3721 Truxel Road, Sacramento, CA 95834
- Shell: 800 Ikea Court, West Sacramento, CA 95691
- Oliver Gas: 1009 Oliver Road, Fairfield, CA 94534
Our friends at San Diego-based Pearson Fuels are sponsoring the promo. The five stations are the newest outlets for E85 in a network that spans California. (We wrote about Pearson and its business model a couple months back.) Check out Pearson’s release for more information.
There are some 1 million flex-fuel vehicles in California, built to run on E85, a cheaper, cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline that also emits fewer toxic pollutants that foul the air and fewer greenhouse-gas emissions that warm the planet. Since there are about 2.1 million people living in the Sacramento metro area, 5.4 percent of the state’s population, we can extrapolate that there are roughly 54,000 FFVs in the area.
So get thee to the pump, and tell your FFV-driving friends!
Even after Wednesday, when E85 resets to its usual price, consumers will still see a benefit. It’s usually 25 to 30 percent cheaper than regular 87 octane.
Even if you don’t own an FFV, you can enter our contest to raise awareness about the benefits of E85. You could win a $50 Amazon gift card!
So, is everybody out there waiting for the spiffy new editions of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt? If EV-makers and proponents are waiting for those holdouts to show up, it could be a very long few months.
The website Inside EVs, which keeps track of monthly sales for all-electrics and plug-in hybrids in the U.S. and globally, has published its July numbers, and they’re abysmal: Only 7,102 were sold during the month, compared with 11,242 in July 2014. There are still six models for which numbers are not available — Ford’s Fusion Energi, C-Max Energi and Focus Electric; Porsche Cayenne S-E and Panamera S-E; and the Kia Soul EV — but even if those cars come in at the same level as this June, the overall sales tally will still be well under last year’s pace.
For the first six months of 2015, a total of 61,449 EVs have been sold domestically, compared with 123,049 during the same period last year. Meantime, the rest of the world continues to outsell the U.S., thanks in part to generous subsidies in many European countries.
This marks the third straight month that U.S. EV sales have lagged the same month in 2014, and there’s a running debate about why. The dominant argument is that consumers are waiting to push their hard-earned money toward the next-generation Leaf and Volt, both of which are due out in 2017.
According to Inside EVs, the 2016 model year of the Leaf will have a 30 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, compared with the 24 kWh currently out there, giving the 2016 version an estimated range of 105-110 miles, up from the current 84. The range for the redesigned (and much more stylish) 2017 Leaf should be even better, and Nissan is testing battery technology it hopes will allow a future version of the Leaf to get 250 miles on a full charge.
The current iteration of the Volt can travel only 38 miles without recharging, but the 2016 model of the hybrid will be able to go 53 miles before the gasoline-engine kicks in, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. On a full charge and full tank of gas, the range is 420 miles. Details about the redesigned 2017 Volt are sketchy.
The Times notes that the all-electric Tesla Model S has a range of 265 miles, but it costs $100,000. The cheaper EVs are, the generally shorter their battery ranges are. The 2016 Volt’s MSRP is $33,170 (without incentives), and the last iteration of the Leaf, the 2014, starts at $28,980.
Tesla’s upcoming Model 3, which is supposed to retail at $35,000 and is slated to be released in early 2016, is expected to have a battery range of about 200 miles. Tesla expects big things from its first “mainstream” EV. The Model S already is the hottest-selling EV in the nation so far this year, with 13,200 units sold, although only 1,600 were sold in July, compared with 2,800 in June and 2,400 in May.
The other splashy new release is the $30,000 Chevy Bolt, an all-electric that’s supposed to go on sale in 2017 and also has a range of about 200 miles.
So there’s a bounty of high-tech, much-improved EVs and hybrids hitting the market in the next year or so. But if sales remain flat even then, the depressive effect of low gasoline prices could emerge as the true motivator.
With the 2014 gas-price spike long in the distance (a gallon of regular was $2.64 Tuesday, compared with $3.50 a year ago), there’s little incentive for consumers to buy or lease a new electric car now, especially if they’re not sure they’ll have a battery strong enough to get them to work and back.
Sales of conventional vehicles are going in the opposite direction as EVs: The big automakers are on track for their first year of 17 million units sold since before the Great Recession. SUVs, crossovers and pickups led a strong sales month in July. “That segment of vehicles continues to be smoking hot,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of sales and marketing, told the Detroit Free Press.
For perspective, more Chevy Silverados were sold in July (56,380) than the eight top-selling EVs combined that were sold from January through July (55,365).
If you’re shopping for a new or used car and want the benefits of cleaner-burning, cheaper, American-made fuels, consider buying a flex-fuel vehicle that can use E85. Check out E85Vehicles.com to see which models are FFVs.