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Quick, which is easier to find: a public charging station for an electric vehicle or a station that offers E85? Despite the much larger number of flex-fuel vehicles on the road, it turns out that when you bring the fight down to electricity vs. ethanol, EV drivers have nearly a 2-1 edge.

Based on data from the Department of Energy, the U.S. is studded with 4,448 public charging stations. That makes for about one charging slot for every four EVs on the road. On the other hand, despite there being over 7 million ethanol-capable vehicles on our highways, there only 2,468 stations offering E85, meaning that over 3,000 flex-fuel drivers are fighting over each available hose. Theoretically, of course.

Why are flex-fuel drivers going thirsty? Well, mostly it's because they're not. Since nearly all of those 7 million ethanol-capable vehicles can also run on plain vanilla E10 gasoline, there have to be specific incentives in place to make installing E-85 pumps worthwhile.

And why do EV drivers have it so relatively plush? As it turns out, the numbers are a bit deceiving. The ratio between electric vehicles and charging stations may seem rather low, but when you consider that an EV is likely to spend much longer attached to its charging cable than an internal combustion vehicle spends drinking from a fuel hose, the ratio seems far more equitable. Considering the limited range of many EVs and the number of new models coming on the market, the number of charging stations will likely continue to grow rapidly.

On the other hand, with the end of ethanol subsidies, the cost of E85 is likely to see a sharp bump. This may cause a decrease in the number of sites offering this fuel.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      Randy C
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can you imagine a world where the fuel is delivered straight to your gas tank in your garage? You no longer have to make a detour on your way to someplace in order to stop by a fueling station for more of the expensive fuel. That is what you have with an electric car. You leave every morning with a full "fuel" tank and a fresh 100 miles. And all you have to do is plug in the cord just like your cell phone. Sounds like Nirvana to me!
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Randy C
        That's the beauty of an EV that is very under-appreciated.. no gas station to visit. 1/3rd of the price to fill up, or you get free fuel if you have solar panels. A gas car is kinda silly, you drive maybe a mile or two to get gas, waste gas idling, then fork over a good chunk of your paycheck to fill the tank, drive another mile out of the way to get home... I cannot wait to go electric for my 4 wheelers. So far i am enjoying charging my 2 wheeler inside the house :)
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          @MTN Ranger I have no idea who voted you down. Maybe some poor soul who still dreams of being a gas pump attendant!
          MTN RANGER
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Since I don't go to the gas station anymore, I have to keep glass wipes in my car for the windows. The window squeegee is the the only reason for me to visit a gas station.
          Randy C
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          If you truly miss using the washing squeegee. Pull up to the pump, walk in, buy a pack of gum, walk out, clean the windows, and leave. They can't complain, you did after all make a purchase. :)
          Ele Truk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          And air for the tires.
          MTN RANGER
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Ele Truk, the Volt has a built-in tire inflator in the trunk.
      • 3 Years Ago
      If automakers would shed the antiquated Li Ion battery technology that takes forever to charge, makes very poor use of the electricity that is stored and as many are learning (and will learn more and more) can be a dangerous fire hazard - and instead use existing (much, much better) newer battery technology... it will take as long to charge up an EV as it does to fill a tank with E10 or E85. NO kidding...
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Iknowbetter Ah, your not related to Dan Frederiksen by any chance? No? hmmmmm..... Ok, we are all agog, what is this marvellous new battery? (I suspect we will wait a long time)
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Marco Polo
          Maybe he's talking about something that's been demonstrated in the lab, but won't be on the market for a decade. Or he could have one of those "generator powering motor powering generator" (repeating ad nauseum) ideas. Old idea that still doesn't work. But what would you bet that he's thinking of the EEStor vaporware "battery"? Who is going to break it to him that it isn't coming...
        Ele Truk
        • 3 Years Ago
        So you've heard of a better battery technology to replace Lithium Ion? Please tell...
      harlanx6
      • 3 Years Ago
      And where does that leave hydrogen in terms of of infrastructure? Right!
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      BTW, there currently are subsidies for ethanol pumps and have been for many years. While the blender tax credit ended, the pump subsidy has expanded to cover the majority of the cost of the pumps. This subsidy is now for blender pumps-- which are gasoline pumps that can also dispense ethanol blends. It replaces an ethanol-only pump subsidy that was largely unused because gas stations found the pure E85 pumps economically unviable due to little demand for the fuel. The current subsidy lets them install pumps that primarily dispense gasoline but can also dispense ethanol blends. In addition, there state subsidies, like South Dakota, which provides grants: "$25,000 in assistance for the first pump installed at a fuel station and up to $10,000 for each additional pump." http://articles.aberdeennews.com/2011-12-21/news/30540662_1_ethanol-blender-pumps-flex-fuel-vehicles-ethanol-subsidies Compared to E85 pumps, Level III EV quick chargers are less expensive and installation of 3-phase power is less expensive than installing new underground storage tanks. As most charging is at home, Level III chargers are only needed for longer trips. It would be better to use incentives to promote quick charging infrastructure, but the EV charging station tax credit expired.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ethanol also has difficulties in shipping, due to its proclivity to attract water. I had to have a filter/separated installed on my boat due to ethanol in gas (one reason why people pay more for ethanol free gas at marinas). That said, for regular use, I have no opinion on ethanol, which means people will either scream because ethanol is bad, scream because it is the savior of human kind, or simply be wary of my intentions.
      imoore
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, I haven't seen Watty since the REA co-op days. This brings back childhood memories. Is anybody still using him?
      PR
      • 3 Years Ago
      From the story "the numbers are a bit deceiving. The ratio between electric vehicles and charging stations may seem rather low, but when you consider that an EV is likely to spend much longer attached to its charging cable than an internal combustion vehicle spends drinking from a fuel hose, the ratio seems far more equitable. " The numbers are even more deceiving than ABG thought. It is true that EV's have to spend more time when attached to a public charging station to "fill up" than an E85 car. But EV's don't need to get anywhere near 100% of their energy from public chargers, while nearly 100% of fuel for E85 passenger cars come from public chargers.
      Joeviocoe
      • 3 Years Ago
      They SHOULD count home chargers as part of the infrastructure. And there are over 12,000 of those already.
        lne937s
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        not to mention all the 110v outlets that allow slow charging....
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        My the bike corner of my kitchen already has an EV fueling infrastructure over here. Pretty high tech :D
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        @ 2 wheel Well, for 1/4 of the cost of your bike, I could get shoes! (still laughing at a funny beat down PR gave me....)
        MTN RANGER
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Definitely. Plus, my 240V EVSE is a lot cheaper than installing an E85 pumping station in my garage.
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