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Transportation & Fuel Source Technology


Cars.com Launches Consumer Guide to E85


To help educate consumers on the pros and cons of E85, cars.com recently launched a consumer guide to E85 and flexible-fuel vehicles.

The cars.com E85 guide answers the important question of whether or not consumers can save money at the pump by using E85. It also offers consumers a simple definition of E85, explains how it's produced, addresses the product's availability and discusses possible environmental benefits of using the alternative fuel. Consumers can also see a list of all the 2006 flexible-fuel cars on the market.

Recent spikes in gas prices have turned consumer attention to alternative fuels like E85. Ethanol alcohol, in the form of E85, is in the news thanks to a massive marketing campaign by General Motors and the fact that several politicians, including President Bush, have been pushing E85 as a viable way to cut down the country's reliance on foreign oil.

While consumers might have heard the terms E85 or flexible-fuel, many are still confused as to what those terms actually mean and whether the car they own can run on E85.

"Cars.com recently conducted a survey and found that 46 percent of car buyers said they didn't know enough about alternative fuels like ethanol to consider flex-fuel vehicles for purchase," said cars.com senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder. "In addition, a recent GM study found that roughly 70 percent of its flex-fuel vehicle owners didn't know they could use E85."

Adding to the confusion is the fact that ethanol is already used as an additive in gasoline. Many consumers are aware that the gasoline they use on a regular basis may contain up to 10 percent ethanol. The important distinction is that E85 is 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gasoline. To run on E85, a car needs an engine manufactured specifically to handle fuel with such a large percentage of ethanol.

Below is a brief look at the pros and cons of using E85 and a list of 2006 flexible-fuel models on the market now.

Pros
  • It is a renewable fuel
  • Uses up to 85 percent less imported petroleum
  • Less money goes overseas
  • Consumers don't have to pay a premium for a flexible-fuel car versus the same model with a standard, gasoline-only engine
Cons
  • Gets fewer miles per gallon than regular gas, so consumers aren't likely to save any money on fuel given the current cost of E85
  • Environmental benefits unclear






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