Economic Case for E85 Flunks the Test


Detroit News - October 8, 2012

With gaso­line prices hov­er­ing near record highs, mil­lions of motorists who dri­ve “flex fuel” vehi­cles are won­der­ing if it makes sense to switch to ethanol.

Find out if there is a sav­ings, and worth the switch.

While the price of ethanol, or E85, is low­er than the price of reg­u­lar unlead­ed — the aver­age price in Michi­gan at the end of last week was $3.45 per gal­lon for E85 vs. $3.82 for reg­u­lar gas — it pro­vides less ener­gy and, there­fore, worse mileage than gas.

“Typ­i­cal­ly, it’s hard to make an eco­nom­ic case for using E85,” acknowl­edged Cole­man Jones, head of alter­na­tive fuels for Gen­er­al Motors Co.

While they are not required to pro­vide mileage num­bers for ethanol to con­sumers, automak­ers are required to pro­vide them to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. And the Depart­ment of Ener­gy posts those fig­ures on its web­site,

A 2013 Chevro­let Tahoe, for exam­ple, gets a com­bined fuel econ­o­my rat­ing of 17 miles per gal­lon with reg­u­lar gaso­line, but just 13 miles per gal­lon with E85.



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