From Detroit Free Press
E85, which some view as the automotive fuel of the future, will soon be available at about 20 Meijer stores in Michigan.
More than four million flexible-fuel vehicles on the road are capable of burning E85 or gasoline or a combination of the two. However, most owners fill up with regular gasoline because of a shortage of filling stations offering the fuel.
Only five stations in Michigan sell E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, reports the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.
Some owners don’t even realize that their vehicle is capable of running on E85.
Advocates of E85 tout the fuel as a made-in-America alternative to imported oil that also cuts dirty tailpipe emissions, boosts performance and helps farmers. Ethanol is a grain alcohol produced from crops like corn and soy.
Michigan is one of the nation’s leading producers of corn, growing more than 257 million bushels a year.
The state has one ethanol plant in Caro that makes 45 million gallons a year, but four plants are due within two years. They will produce more than 200 million gallons of ethanol combined annually.
Meijer will work with GM and CleanFuel USA, which manufactures E85 fueling equipment, to identify which stores will sell E85. The trio is focusing on stores in Jackson, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Warren, Pontiac, Detroit, Rochester and Brighton.
"We’re hoping to have several sites open by the end of 2006," Meijer spokeswoman Judith Clark said.
Detroit’s automakers, battling to catch up with their Japanese competitors in selling hybrid gas-electric vehicles, are betting on ethanol to help boost their image. GM, which has more than 1.5 million flexible-fuel vehicles on the road, began running television and newspaper ads this year touting E85. GM also now identifies E85 vehicles with yellow fuel caps.
All passenger vehicles sold in the United States can use E10, a blend of 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol that is widely available.
Critics of E85 say it costs more to use. E85 often costs less at the pump than gas, but E85-powered vehicles typically get between 5 percent to 10 percent lower fuel mileage than cars that run on conventional gasoline.
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