Starring Role: Domestic Auto Makers Picking Up Efforts regarding Renewable Fuels

Article excerpt

Domestic automotive companies are increasing their efforts to address the impact of our nation's growing dependence on foreign oil. DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors recently issued a joint letter to Congress reiterating that renewable fuels can play an important role in addressing this national problem.

"The good news is that ethanol and other biofuels are well known to our country and to the U.S. auto industry," the letter stated. "For decades, farmers in the heartland have been turning corn into fuel, and, likewise, we at DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors have been building flexible vehicles that run on ethanol."

According to the letter, there are currently more than 5 million flexible fuel vehicles on the road, and the three domestic automotive companies will add an additional million cars and trucks this year alone. If all of these vehicles were running on E85, they would displace more than 3.5 billion gallons of gasoline a year.

The automotive companies also announced their inent to do more. "We are proud to announce that we will double our production of vehicles that are capable of running on renewable fuels by 2010," the letter stated. "That's more than 2 million E85 and biodiesel capable vehicles a year by the end of the decade--the single largest commitment to renewable fuels in our nation's history.

"Our hope is that with this commitment, fuel providers will have even more incentive to produce ethanol and other biofuels and install pumps to distribute them. Without this alternative fuel infrastructure, we will still be missing the opportunity to displace gasoline supplies in the U.S. with home grown and produced biofuels. Right now, there are 170,000 gas stations in the United States, but only about 700 E85 pumps. We need business and government to work together to enhance the production, distribution and use of renewable biofuels."

The domestic automotive companies recently endorsed the Energy Future Coalition's goal of getting 25 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2025. In addition, DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors have taken the following steps:

* DaimlerChrysler has committed to produce 500,000 FFVs by the end of the 2008 model year and has endorsed the use of federal and military specification B20 in Dodge diesel trucks in fleet applications (B20 is 20 percent biodiesel blended in conventional diesel fuel).

* Ford, in addition to consumer awareness programs and marketing campaigns, entered into a partnership with VeraSun, the second largest ethanol producer in the United States, to assist in funding of retail fuel outlets for the nation's first "Ethanol Corridor" across Missouri and Illinois--increasing the E85 infrastructure in these states by about a third. The Corridor will allow an FFV driver to travel from Kansas City, Mo. to Chicago using only E85.

* General Motors, by the end of this year, will have created partnerships in California, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Texas with oil companies, ethanol suppliers and distribution outlets that will add more than 140 new E85 pumps to the approximately 700 already in service. …