Here's the thing: American automakers used to fully support E85-capable (aka flex-fuel) vehicles. With a few cheap additions to a standard engine ($100, or thereabouts), a car could get a special badge, drink corn (where available) and get the automaker a bit of goodwill, especially from politicians. The Auto Alliance often went out of its way to proclaim all of the flex-fuel vehicles its members were selling (see this PDF).

Today, things are different. There is talk of introducing a bill in Congress that would force half of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be flex-fuel capable, starting in 2012 (jumping to 80 percent in 2015). Interestingly, it's not just gas ICE vehicles that would be affected. Diesel engines would need to be able to handle biodiesel, probably at higher concentrates than B5. Auto Alliance president Dave McCurdy wrote a letter to members of Congress last week to say that a mandate like this is a bad idea. Instead of the flex-fuel flood of vehicles of years past, McCurdy said that infrastructure should pace vehicle availability. "Mandates to produce vehicles for which there is inadequate fuels or fueling infrastructure should be opposed," he wrote.

McCurdy's other main point was that diverting limited automaker resources to making so many vehicles flex-fuel capable will divert resources from other advanced vehicle technologies. It's not easy to make cars, is it?

[Source: Green Car Advisor]


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