"SWITCHGRASS" - Release Name, El Reno - Scientific Name, Bouteloua curtipendula - Common Name, sideoats grama - This is only one of many switchgrass varieties - Photo Credit: USDA
Toyota, the world's #2 automaker, has begun discussions to consider offering E85 capable cars. General Motors, the world's #1 automaker, has offered E85 FlexFuel cars since 1999 and has the most extensive line of automobile form factors that are able to make use of this fuel alternative.
Ford and Chrysler have models available and ready for the market, but Chrysler currently only offers its E85 car in its fleet sales division.
Toyota may be able to offer an E85 car in the marketplace by 2008. Toyota is currently deeply committed to its electric/gas hybrid technology powered automobiles that use electric motors to assist a petrol gas powered engine to achieve greater fuel economy.
The main problem with a hybrid technology approach, given the current geo-political problems that surround the cost and availability of oil, is that it still requires and consumes a greater amount of petrol based fuel than an E85 powered vehicle would require and consume.
The main problem with E85 is distribution. Once distribution is established, the problem will be production with the key structure being local, in-country resources. America does not need to purchase ethanol from foreign resources so that we then become dependent on other countries for our fuel needs (the problem we now have with our petrol fuel needs).
Excerpts from the Daily Breeze -
Report: Toyota plans on ethanol
U.S. sales of alternative-fuel vehicles from the Japanese company would start by 2008, financial newspaper says.
By Muhammed El-Hasan - Daily Breeze
Toyota Motor Corp. will announce in a few months its plans for vehicles powered by ethanol, a company spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Financial Times reported Wednesday that the Japanese automaker plans to sell ethanol- powered vehicles in the United States by 2008, citing an unnamed company executive.
Cindy Knight, a spokeswoman for Toyota's North American sales and marketing arm in Torrance, said she could not confirm the Financial Times report. Knight did say that the company was studying the technology.
"Toyota is looking at a range of alternatives for cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles. And ethanol is one of many," Knight said. "It's something that we are looking at doing. But we haven't made an official decision on what vehicles we'll offer it in and when. That decision will come in the next few months."
California has only four stations that sell E85, and not all of them are open to the public, Barthmus said. GM is pushing to make E85 available more broadly, including in California. GM ran TV ads during Super Bowl XL and the Winter Olympics to promote ethanol with the slogan "Live Green Go Yellow."
E85 may be scarce in California, but much of the gasoline the state's residents use already has ethanol, spokeswoman Carolin Keith said.
ExxonMobil's Torrance refinery bought ethanol to mix with the gasoline it sells. The ethanol is used as a substitute for MTBE, which was phased out in California in 2004 because of concerns it polluted groundwater. The Torrance refinery phased out MTBE in 2003.
"I think things are changing with ethanol and biofuel," Knight (Toyota spokesperson) said. "So I think you'll see more of that in California because we've got the agriculture."
The sooner we get to E85 as a standard for our automobile fuel needs, the sooner we will be on a stronger "war footing", we will get a cleaner burning fuel alternative as a bonus!