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While sitting around a table speaking to some of General Motors performance-minded engineers, I decided to bring up the topic of using E85 as both a green and a performance fuel. I was a little surprised to hear that they had already debated this topic. Of course, GM is already making quite a few vehicles which are E85-capable, but the vehicles have not been given any modifications to take advantage of the higher-performing properties of the alcohol, they have been changed only to be capable of running on the fuel. What are the chances that we'll be seeing high-performance GM vehicles set up to run E85? It's a distinct possibility as more and more fuel stations begin to carry the fuel, but we don't suggest holding your breath for any alcohol-based performance changes being made to the vehicle. The Chevy HHR SS would have been a perfect candidate for such an option, as the vehicle features a turbocharged engine. GM went ahead and offered the launch-control and the no-lift shifting but did not decide to make it ethanol-capable. Ah well, can't win 'em all, right?

FYI - that would be your humble narrator autocrossing the HHR. Good times!



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      When you say "As more and more fuel stations"
      You really are kidding aren't you?

      1% of all ethanol in 2006 was sold as E85.

      And the stations barely exist at all outside of the corn belt.
      http://greyfalcon.net/e85stations.png

      _

      Not to mention the dubious mention of something which chugs through fuel like a like a speed eating contest being considered "green".

      Doesn't really matter what fuel it's using. Thats not green.

      _

      The ethanol euphoria gets a little bit silly sometimes.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Shut yer beak, grey pigeon. There's plenty of E85 in the Upper Midwest. Just opened our 335th station in Renville, Minn. on Friday.

      See for yourself:

      wwwCleanAirChoice.org
      • 7 Years Ago
      E-85 as a performance fuel is a perfect fit, it has a high octane rating which is a perfect for turbos and superchargers. This will allow 4 cylinders to replace V-6's at better fuel economy. Using it initially as in performance models will break the "Chicken and the Egg" problem with E-85. People will seek out E-85 for perfomance models if it is required.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That no-lift shifting sounds like fun. ^_^
      • 7 Years Ago
      It seems that GM (through Saab) has certainly already considered the performance capabilities of ethanol, as illustrated by the Aero X concept. Because of the high octane ratings of ethanol, E85 being over 100, and pure ethanol over 115, it is very well suited in high compression, performance applications. It seems to make sense that they would approach this under Saab, since, as a make, I would say they are more dedicated to turbo technology across their model line than any other. I seem to remember the idea of the Aero X involved a fuel system device that would determine the amount of ethanol in the fuel, and adjust the compression in the combustion chamber accordingly.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well, yeah, ethanol isn't really an environmentally great fuel. Its "green" in that its grown from a renewable resource, sure, but still a stopgap measure. It helps us rely less on foreign oil from the middle east. Though....I really wonder how much we can do with corn.
      • 7 Years Ago
      But the HHR already has direct injection.
      That allows a decent 9.2:1 compression ratio, with plenty of boost.
      • 7 Years Ago
      ==Shut yer beak, grey pigeon. There's plenty of E85 in the Upper Midwest. Just opened our 335th station in Renville, Minn. on Friday.==

      Heh, well if you actually took the time to click the graphic, I agree with you.
      http://greyfalcon.net/e85stations.png

      Minnesota, Wisconson, Iowa, and Illinois have scads of them. (i.e. The Corn Belt)

      That doesn't really do much on a national scale though. Especially when you consider the coasts are the real population centers.

      Whats more, Ethanol isn't really a "clean air" choice. It's no better than gasoline in cumulative emissions.
      http://greyfalcon.net/ethanol2
      http://greyfalcon.net/ethanol5
      • 7 Years Ago
      At my gas station in Illinois, there are 87,89,93 AKI fuels. Mid-grade is intentionally surpressed, so people looking for fuel for cars requiring 95RON are forced to purchase premium.

      All are diluted with 10% ethanol, which cost 3% in mileage. That might be palatable if the AKI was raised to at least 88,90,94 AKI.
      The 25% loss in mileage going from E10 to E85 is no where close to being compensated via the lower purchase cost of E85.
      Since it is winter, and E70 is being sold, the purchase price is proportionately higher than E85 (only a 20% loss in mileage over E10), but still not low enough to compensate for the difference in energy. [still higher cost of operation]

      Diesel around these parts is roughly 20% higher than regular grade gas, $3.6 vs. $3., but that is usually balanced out with really cheap diesel in the summer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Whats more, Ethanol isn't really a "clean air" choice."

      Thousands of E85 buyers -- and the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest -- say otherwise. Proof is on our website:

      www.CleanAirChoice.org