The Nebraska Ethanol Board reports that a significant increase in the number of E-85 capable flexible fuel vehicles in the U.S. vehicle fleet is one factor driving an expansion of retail E-85 fuel pumps.
E-85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The fuel is used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFV) specially designed to use fuel blends ranging from gasoline to E-85. Every domestic automaker produces a wide range of E85 capable FFV models and several foreign automakers also offer such vehicles to American consumers.
By the end of 2004 more than 4 million FFV cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans will be on the road in the U.S. In Nebraska, more than 20,000 such vehicles are in use. All of these vehicles are designed to use E-85 interchangeably with conventional 10 percent ethanol blends or gasoline. The "flexible" nature of these vehicles is that they efficiently accommodate a wide range of gasoline-ethanol fuel options. The vehicles are well suited for states like Nebraska where only a few E-85 stations currently exist but where demand for the fuel continues to grow.
With current concerns about fuel supply and price many FFV owners are interested in determining the availability of E-85. The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition and many of its members including General Motors and the Nebraska Ethanol Board, continue to work with a variety of parties to expand the availability of E-85. In several major Midwestern cities E-85 is readily available.
The Nebraska Ethanol Board will help coordinate product introduction. Assistance available to the participating petroleum marketer will include access to a data base which includes all Nebraska owners of E-85-capable FFV cars and trucks. The data base is designed to identify FFV owners in all Nebraska ZIP codes.
The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) will provide $1,000 to any vendor for the purpose of installing E85 using an existing dispensing/storage program. In some cases additional funds may be available. Vendors must agree to an E85 marketing commitment to participate in the program. The NEVC will provide a $690 imaging package for each participating station.
A limited number of stations will be invited to participate in the General Motors E-85 market expansion program. This program supports the initial introduction of E85 though an "E-85 for 85 cents" promotion. This promotion is supplemented with media exposure and a targeted product introduction to FFV owners in specified ZIP codes near the E-85 outlet.
The Nebraska Ethanol Board and the NEVC will directly assist marketers with questions about E-85 pricing, availability, tax incentives, pump location criteria, and promotional and educational materials. These organizations will also assist marketers with E-85 highway signage where appropriate.
The E-85 market expansion program was initially focused on major Midwest population centers where the majority of FFV automobiles and trucks were operated. During the 2004-2005 time period the NEVC will continue to work with organizations like the Nebraska Ethanol Board to actively expand E-85 pumps along major highway and Interstate corridors.