E85 vs. Gasoline Comparison Test

Running on Alcohol Fumes


  • 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Picture

    2007 Chevrolet Tahoe Picture

    We drove from San Diego to Las Vegas and back on gas and then on E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gas) to compare fuel economy. | March 18, 2010

9 Photos

This article compares the costs, performance and efficiency of gasoline and E85. Together with other articles published as part of Edmunds' ongoing coverage of alternative fuels and advanced technology, this piece will help consumers understand the costs and benefits — both financial and environmental — of the choices becoming available to them. See also "Fueling Up With Ethanol" and the Fuel Economy Center.

As our government and U.S. automakers increasingly push us toward an ethanol solution to our energy problems, we decided to pit gasoline against ethanol in a comparison test. What kind of fuel economy will you really get using E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline)? How far could you go on a tank of E85? And, for motorists tired of high gas prices, will E85 really save money? Is there a significant difference in greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide) emissions?

In short, should America bet the farm on ethanol? Or are there unforeseen problems with this renewable fuel? We thought a long-distance road trip from San Diego to Las Vegas and back would reveal if this highly touted corn-based fuel is a long shot or a sure bet.

Using a flexible-fuel 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe LT from our long-term fleet, we planned our test around what then was the only currently available source of E85 open to the public in all of California, Pearson Fuels in San Diego. Rather than drive loops around the city, we decided to turn the test into a 667-mile round trip between San Diego and Las Vegas, which was then the next closest E85 source.

How the Test Was Run

The drive from San Diego to Las Vegas (a popular destination for many Southern Californians) was just over 333 miles one-way — within easy reach for the Tahoe running on gasoline with its 24-gallon tank. We would drive there and back on gasoline, then repeat the journey the next day on E85. In each case we'd start and end the test at the same pump to counteract pump shut-off discrepancies.

Our preliminary E85 fuel economy estimates came out 20-25 percent lower than the Tahoe's 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway rating on gasoline. Reaching Las Vegas on a single tank of E85 looked doubtful. To avoid being stranded in the desert, we took along six gallons of E85 in plastic gas cans.

One difficulty was making sure we could test E85 undiluted by any residual gasoline left in the tank. To do this we would have to completely drain our Chevrolet SUV's tank before refilling with E85. Mike Lewis, the general manager of Pearson Fuels, arranged a mechanic to help us with that task. Pearson Fuels has a futuristic alternative fuels island that sells not only E85 but also biodiesel (a mixture of petroleum-based diesel and diesel made from soybeans and other plants), compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane.

We took along our "V-box" GPS data-logger, a satellite-based instrument for accurately measuring speed and distance. On a pair of steep grades we would test passing acceleration from 50-70 mph. Later, we would find an unobstructed frontage road and measure 0-60-mph and quarter-mile acceleration.

Run #1: Gasoline

At 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, we set out from Pearson Fuels and headed north on Interstate 15 with a full tank of gasoline. Whenever possible we set our cruise control at 75 mph — slightly slower than the flow of traffic. About an hour later, in the Riverside, California, area, we hit heavy commuter traffic and had to reduce our speed and endure a bit of slow-and-go traffic for a few miles.

Besides the performance testing, the drive to Las Vegas was, well, long and boring. Motorists sped past with expressions of eager expectation, heading for the glitz of Las Vegas with its dazzling shows and high-risk casino tables. Using global positioning satellite navigation (GPS) we headed for Flamingo Stop, at 8615 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, a service station that at the time sold both gasoline and E85 but now just offers gasoline. We arrived, filled the fuel tank with more gasoline, and ate lunch on the fly as we headed back to San Diego.

Switching to E85

We arrived back in San Diego at 5:15 p.m. and refilled our tank with gasoline to measure how much fuel we had burned. Service Manager Jeanette Ramos was waiting with the mechanic who had stayed late to assist us. In the garage at Pearson Kia (now Kearney Pearson Kia) service technician Corey Gonzales put the Tahoe on a lift, disconnected the fuel hose and siphoned out the gas. As the tank got low and the siphon slowed to a trickle, Gonzales tilted the Tahoe to drain even more gas out of the tank, leaving just enough fuel to drive to the E85 pumps a hundred yards away. That night we drove around San Diego with a full tank of E85 to dilute the trace amount of remnant gasoline.

Run #2: E85

The next morning, we topped off with E85 before another 6:30 a.m. departure to Las Vegas. Commuter traffic was a little faster, a phenomenon locally referred to as "Friday Light." This might have tilted the test very slightly in favor of E85 since highway mileage is better than stop-and-go traffic. However, over the course of a 667-mile trip, the difference would average out.

Along the road to Las Vegas we used the V-box to measure 50-70 mph and standing-start acceleration. Since there was a strong tailwind this time, we made an additional acceleration run in the opposite direction to calculate a two-way average and cancel out wind effects.

Approaching Las Vegas, the fuel gauge was getting very low. With the Flamingo Stop pumps in sight, the low-fuel warning light came on. This didn't happen with gasoline, so we knew we'd gotten lower fuel economy. Still, we had made it all the way on one tank of E85. Had the tailwind made it possible? We would find out on the return trip.

Filling up With E85 in Las Vegas

The Flamingo Stop fuel station offered E85 out of the same nozzle from which gasoline is dispensed. We wondered if unsuspecting motorists had accidentally refueled with E85, intending to get gas. Unlike the diesel nozzle, which is a different size to prevent just such mishaps, the gas/E85 nozzle was one and the same

Nearby, a man was pumping E85 into a brand-new Chevrolet Avalanche, complete with flex-fuel badges. It was a good opportunity to get some man-on-the-street reactions.

Edmunds.com: How do you like running on E85?

Avalanche Owner: The mileage sucks. On gas I can get 18 (miles per gallon). On E85 I get like 12.

Did you buy this truck so you could run on E85?

Yup.

But you get worse gas mileage. So why do you do it?

To help the environment.

Footnote: This man didn't seem to fit the profile of an environmentalist, tree-hugger or greenie. He was just a regular guy trying to do something good for the planet. We experienced a small burst of patriotic pride.

Run #2: Las Vegas to San Diego

On the way back we were hit smack in the face (or fascia) with high winds. The same winds that had improved our fuel economy on the leg from San Diego were about to even things out on the way back.

The drive back was filled with gauge-watching. Would we make it on one tank? The headwind was clearly taking its toll. Nearing San Diego, the navigation system's "Distance Remaining" total exceeded the digital "Fuel Range" on our instrument cluster. With 55 miles to go, the low-fuel warning lamp came on. At 36 miles, we pulled over and added five gallons of E85, reminding ourselves to add that amount to the total when we refilled.

The Final Score — Fuel Economy and Cost

After refueling we put the fuel amounts and the prices paid into a spreadsheet and compiled a clear, side-by-side comparison for both fuel consumption and cost. Remember, these results apply only to this vehicle and to the prices in effect during our 667-mile test.

Gas Result: From San Diego to Las Vegas and back, we used 36.5 gallons of regular gasoline and achieved an average fuel economy of 18.3 mpg.

Gas Cost: We spent $124.66 for gasoline for the trip. The average pump price was $3.42 per gallon.

E85 Result: From San Diego to Las Vegas and back we used 50 gallons of E85 and achieved an average fuel economy of 13.5 mpg.

E85 Cost: We spent $154.29 on E85 for the trip. The average pump price was $3.09 per gallon

Gas/E85 difference: The fuel economy of our Tahoe on E85, under these conditions, was 26.5 percent worse than it was when running on gas.

A motorist, filling up and comparing the prices of regular gas and E85, might see the price advantage of E85 (in our case 33 cents or 9.7 percent less) as a bargain. However, since fuel economy is significantly reduced, the net effect is that a person choosing to run their flex-fuel vehicle on E85 on a trip like ours will spend 22.8 percent more to drive the same distance. For us, the E85 trip was about $30 more expensive — about 22.9 cents per mile on E85 versus 18.7 cents per mile with gasoline.

The Final Score Card — Performance

We were also interested to see if there was a clear difference in performance. Here, the news was better for the renewable fuel. While the test times were generally slower for E85, the difference was small enough to go unnoticed by most drivers. Despite E85's higher octane rating (103 here) the flex-fuel nature of the Tahoe's 5.3-liter V8 engine prevents it from taking full advantage.

Final results 0-60 1/4 mile 50-70 passing, uphill (sec.)
  time (sec.) time @ (sec.) speed (mph) Cajon Pass Baker Grade
Gas 9.3 16.7 84.2 7.6* 7.2
E85 9.8 17.0 82.7 7.2 7.3

* delayed kickdown

Environmental Comparison

E85 is often heralded as a way to reduce air pollution. Since increasing concern about global warming has focused attention on greenhouse gases, we decided to track our carbon emissions during this test.

By relating our observed fuel economy to CO2 emission figures found in the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide we determined that our gasoline round trip produced 706.5 pounds of carbon dioxide. On E85, the CO2 emissions came to 703.1 pounds. The difference came out in E85's favor, but only by a scant 0.5 percent. Call it a tie. This is certainly not the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions we had been led to expect.

Related Questions About E85

Recent concerns have surfaced about the efficiency of ethanol production. Some critics have actually said that it is a "negative energy source," meaning that more energy is required to produce ethanol than it delivers as a fuel. Further doubts have surfaced about the true environmental benefits of ethanol and E85. And some critics have said that as farmers switch from growing corn for food production to growing it for ethanol, it could produce food shortages. Higher corn prices have already been reported.

But our test wasn't designed to answer those questions. What we can say is that motorists already feeling strapped because of current gasoline prices won't get any relief by switching to ethanol. There are sure to be some who elect to pay the premium to run on E85 to support U.S. energy independence, which is a noble act.

Looking into the future, E85 prices will almost certainly fall as production rises. But will they fall enough to offset the reduced fuel economy? And when will there be enough pumps to make it practical? A search of the federal government's alternative fuels finder shows that in 2014 there were 2,386 stations in the U.S. selling E85, most of them in the Midwestern "Cornbelt" states. If an E85 pump is just 10 miles out of the way, thus requiring a 20-mile round trip, you're looking at a $4 or $5 premium just to get to the fuel. We had to go 130 miles to find the only E85 station in our state at the time of the test. Eight years later in 2014, California still has only 74 E85 stations, mainly in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area. In addition, we can imagine a scenario in which elevated E85 demand will not only put upward pressure on E85 prices, but may also tempt oil companies to cut gasoline prices to compete — ultimately driving the public back to fossil fuels.

We applaud the pursuit of energy independence, but is E85 the panacea promoters say it is? While it could be a part of a solution, it is clearly not a silver bullet.

Comments

  • kcburk kcburk Posts:

    If you think ethanol is the answer, maybe this will change your mind...

  • cincyjs cincyjs Posts:

    Cornell ecologist's study finds that producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy! In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, a Cornell University and University of California-Berkeley study found that: -corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; -switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and -wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced. In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that: -soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and -sunflower plants require 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced. http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July05/ethanol.toocostly.ssl.html Also, it takes lots of water to make ethanol, about 3 gallons of water per gallon of ethanol. And finally, the US Government uses our tax money to subsidize ethanol fuel. I think it is around $.51 per gallon. This money comes out of our paychecks and bank accounts or is borrowed from the Chinese and our kids get to pay it and with interest. So where is the win?? BTW, I hear luxury cars sales in Iowa are brisk.

  • kastlewood kastlewood Posts:

    Upon retiring in 1984, my wife and I decided to travel for an extended period of time. We bought a new 1984 Ford Van to tow a 32 foot travel trailer. Our milage at the time averaged about 12 mpg on regular gasoline. Once in the western US, we encountered our first gas station that advertised ethenol added fuel and the price was lower than the straight gas. So I decided to try it. We were in that part of the country where there are steep grades. No sooner had we encountered one of these grades then I became aware that the truck was downshifting, not one gear but two gears. The loss of power was alarming to me and I thought that we were having mechanical problems. At the next fuel stop we filled the tanks again and I found that our mpg had dropped significantly. I became suspicious of the "bad gas" that we must have received at that stop with the ethenol. Since that time I realized that it wasn't a mechanical problem, nor was it watered down "bad gas" but rather the ethenol add fuel. One thing that your experimental test drive from San Diego to Vegas didn't show was that had you used 10% ethenol added, you would actually use as much or more fossil fuel on any given test drive. So actually we are simply burning up corn and getting little or nothing of benefit in return.

  • gwennie1103 gwennie1103 Posts:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been using e85 for a couple months now and i have noticed a decrease in mpg...and we are taking a very long road trip in a couple of days and my husband wanted to map all the e85 stations...but after reading this article you have confirmed my fears that i am losing money not saving it. So again thank you for the tiome you took to do this test!

  • stagebuster stagebuster Posts:

    Corn farmers ought to be ashamed. There is a enough world demand for corn that they do not have to mess up our car engines.

  • yachtsman yachtsman Posts:

    Like any fuel the better the compression the better the power and MPG. Unfortunately Gas Pinks and ethanol doesn't. If the Tahoe's engine was rebuilt and optimized the Tahoe would have easily done the mileage and probably much more

  • yachtsman yachtsman Posts:

    The only way an engine can truly be Flex-fuel is if the engine has a turbo and the boost is increased to burn the ethanol efficiently, without one the power and mileage will be poor. An optimized ethanol engine needs double the compression of a Gas engine, but then flex-fuel would be imposable, one fuel or the other.

  • ajmayberry ajmayberry Posts:

    Ethanol has a bright future in comparison to gasoline. In case you guys forgot. it is a renewable fuel. Currently, corn-stock ethanol is responsible for about 85 percent of the ethanol in the U.S. while the remaining 15 percent is derived from wheat, potatoes, sorghum, & cellulosic sources (wood, grasses, the inedible parts of plants). There are also promising new methods that will soon join the market, notably the ethanol from trash and algae farms. Gasoline, on the other hand, is approaching the end of peak production (ACS). As a result, oil prices will continue to rise as the total cost per oil barrel produced increases. Even if oil prices were to remain the same, to consumers, there are still the indirect costs to society; such as climate change, oil industry subsidies, oil spills, etc. These are known as external costs in economics, and when added together, roughly total $12 per gallon. These are real costs and if we don’t pay them, our children will (Brown). Also, many emission comparison tests seem to forget that all biofuels come from biomass, which must remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the first place, to grow. Of course, it releases it back into the atmosphere when consumed, but compare that to crude oil. Oil brings 150 million year old hydrocarbon from the depths of the ocean and we burn it off into our air like it’s no big deal. We are screwing with the planet’s equilibrium and, yet, people continue to ignore it. Lastly, it is always important to note in a comparison test, who has the handicap. E85 does, in this case. If an engine was optimized for E85 usage only, it would get comparable or better mileage. It allows for more ignition timing, which manufacturers implement when the ECU detects E85. The higher octane rating of ethanol also allows a higher compression ratio, which lets the engine produce more work energy out of the heat energy, but it must also be able to handle gasoline. Therefore a low CR is favored to increase the demand of their vehicles. People who purchase a flex-fuel vehicle and still use gasoline. Brown, Lester R. World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Print. Inderscience. "How Much Oil Have We Used?" ScienceDaily. N.p., 07 May 2009. Web. 12 July 2012. . American Chemical Society. "World Crude Oil Production May Peak a Decade Earlier Than Some Predict." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 July 2012. .

  • butch62 butch62 Posts:

    Great article. Couple of things I would like to point out. One, using the same nozzle, will not assure the same fill factor. The shutoff is a safety device not accurate measure. The shutoff happens when a back-pressure happens. Look at the end of a nozzle and you will see a small round or square tube - in the end of the tube is a very small hole (a flake of snow can cover it) and it changes by temp, barometric pressure, position of the nozzle and other factors. A better test is to use a test bucket found at most service companies and measure your product in and out. The price of ethanol most likely doesn't include taxes. So the gas and diesel you buy will have about a 40 to 60cents advantage per gallon. I know in Minnesota and South Dakota they deduct the State taxes and get a rebate from Federal Government. Those taxes are what is used to build and maintain roads. Also ethanol has the ability to bond a molecule of gas to the ethanol (and a molecule of water), so once you added E85 to a gas tank, you immediately mixed the product. So driving around to clear the tank of gas was unnecessary. Any gas left in the tank would be mixed with the E85. That is why 'gasoline antifreeze' works. Very good article, lots of truth to this. One other point is the increased maintenance to the engine. Also if you are pulling a load you may be greatly increasing the wear due to the reduced power. Power can be measured by heat or temperature and alcohol burns much lower than gas. But there are new products on the horizon, but we need the government to get out of the alcohol business. They are forcing use by laws based on greedy information and not on common sense nor real facts. Once they did that they increased the cost of all energy. That's why government needs to have a controlled input on use and quit forcing issues.

  • ocra ocra Posts:

    I have a Flex Fuel Dodge Grand Caravan. You didn't have to do the test, just call me. I have found that E-85 has to be 23% less for me to break even with Regular Gas. I have 147,000 miles on my car and I have driven about 5000 miles using E-85. I am from Iowa and wanted to help the Ag Ecomony. The 30+ years experiment with Ethanol has failed. The Feds need to quick all subsidies and let it stand the test of the free market.

  • The government mandate is killing our older cars and small engines, and driving up the cost of food. I try to buy ethanol free when I can but thats getting harder and more expensive. Europe went for diesel and have cars getting way more than 50 mpg. we need to reset and stop the government mandate that making ethanol free harder to get. I believe in protecting the enviroment, but not at a cost to middle america who has to replace cars that tear up and fix lawn mowers. I believe in hybrids and electric, but also deisel and Gas. competition will help

  • rd70510 rd70510 Posts:

    The article doesn't state whether the gasoline tested is 10% ethanol which is standard at most pumps by Government mandate. I can purchase gasoline locally that does not contain ethanol. I use the ethanol free gasoline in my lawn equipment, boat and most recently my 2011 Hyundai Accent. I check my MPG in the Accent with every tank and have a 15% increase in fuel economy using the ethanol free gasoline compared to the gasoline with 10% ethanol. Also not considered in the comparison is that ethanol producers are subsidized by your tax dollars. The price payed at the pump is not the true cost of the fuel.

  • bikinkawboy bikinkawboy Posts:

    Of course the fuel economy is going to be less, E85 has fewer Btu per gallon. Approximately 124,000 Btu for pure gasoline vs a bit over 83,000 Btu for E85. That's approximately 33% few Btu, hence you can expect fuel economy to be about that much less as well. I've ran quite a bit of E85 in my Dodge Caravan and yes, the fuel economy was less. But here in north central Missouri, E85 was priced so that after I figured MPG vs fuel cost, it was almost exactly the same cost per mile. Like within a few hundreths of a cent per mile. This is nothing newsbreaking for anyone who is smart enough to research what they're doing. But then again, when I ask some people what kind of fuel economy they get with their new car, their answer is something like, "With my old car, I had to fill up every week while this car I can go a week and a half between fill ups." Of course when I ask them how big the fuel tank is, they have no idea whatsoever, meaning their new car may have a tank half again as big. Or twice as big. My old car had an 11 gallon tank and the Dodge pickup at work has a 37 gallon tank. My old car got about 3 times the gas mileage as the truck, but with the bigger tank the truck could go much farther on a tank full. Wee what I mean?

  • Ethanol E85 is another one of those wasteful Federal Subsidized support programs that we cannot no longer afford. Global warming destoying the environment is a hoax played on ignornant people with the goal of transferring wealth. Energy independence is best achieved by increasing oil production in the USA. Ethanol maybe renewable but it economically unsustainable without Government subsidies, handouts, and bailouts. Do Americans want more money going into a bottomless pit?? We will never achieve energy independence by making Ethanol. It would destroy the USA economy. Elimnate all the subsidies and let Ethanol production stand on its own.

  • E85 tends to resist pre-detonation better than gasoline. Also since in uses more fuel, the mixture stays cooler. This makes e85 more suited for turbocharged applications. I wonder if e85 vs Gas on some of Fords EcoBoost vehicles would yeild different results. Tuners swear by e85 because it allows them to run higher boost and get more power. Naturally aspirated applications typically wouldn't see much if any peformance boost versus forced induction.

  • gopherdfan gopherdfan Posts:

    I've used E85 for sometime and certainly understood all data that you've presented. No argument. However, having been raised in the midwest and being aware of what the farmers have had to deal with, it's time they've had a break! Next, if all internal combustion engines coming out were flex fuel there probably be more E85 available at stations. At least the car owner would have a choice to use it or not. There really is no extra cost to the vehicle. Last but not least, your data did not reveal the gas mpg while using E85. I believe it was 88.93 mpg while ethanol was 15.69 mpg. (15% gas, 85% ethanol)

  • sbook sbook Posts:

    I have been saying this for YEARS. Unlike in California where this article was written..... In Indiana, E-85 is readily available. However the findings in the article mirror what My experience is. 26% lower mileage on e-85. My 2000 s-10 seems to run better on it, my 2008 Impala has no significant performance difference, but in Both cases, the Mileage STINKS!

  • scofrabra scofrabra Posts:

    It would have been interesting to run the same test with non-ethanol gas. I've noticed a dramatic rise in mileage when I filled up w/o ethanol. One thing to consider is that not all gasoline has the same percentage of ethanol. Talking to a tanker driver he explained that he fills the tanker with pure gasoline at the distribution yard, the pulls up to another point and pumps in ethanol. Drive on down the road and it all mixes. Maybe. He said there is no real accurate control over the gas/ethanol ratios. I burned-up all four cylinders on my Nissan Sentra shortly after fueling up, and I believe this was ethanol induced. I have a friend who rebuilt a VW bus engine, got 200 miles before all the cylinder fried, tested the gas and it was 40% ethanol. All-in-all ethanol sucks!

  • skptcl skptcl Posts:

    Could you please help me understand how approximately 280 pounds of fuel can generate 700 pounds of carbon dioxide? I'm skptcl.

  • mattkernes mattkernes Posts:

    This test doesn't make a lot of sense. While I could definitely buy the lower economy of E85, I don't buy the lower performance. Either the test is BS (or there's some variable that's botched), or the engine wasn't far from being correctly tuned for E85. In all other tests I've seen, E85 increased the performance of the car. Not decreased it. Also, running into and against the wind to "average" your results isn't very accurate at all. It's assuming that the tail wind was identical to the frontal wind. That's highly unlikely. One more thing, a car tuned specifically for E85 (and not as a flex-fuel car) will generally get closer to within 2-3% of the economy of E10 because it can take advantage of the much higher compression, duration and timing available to a higher octane fuel. I would venture a guess that this flex-fuel Tahoe simply added fuel without increasing timing and since we don't know what year this Tahoe is, we don't know if it's capable of increasing duration. Simply throwing more fuel at the engine doesn't take advantage of the benefits of a fuel that has a more violent combustion and burns cooler and longer.

  • wimpy01 wimpy01 Posts:

    I find it hilarious that anyone, other than ethanol producers, are still promoting flex-fuel vehicles. Our experience indicates E-85 ethanol gas is at best a wash. If we can find E-85 (no small problem in itself), the price differential, even tho it's subsidized heavily, is negligible. Our small limousine fleet has Lincoln Flex-fuel sedans, our crucial issue is those vehicles typically get 15-25% poorer mpg versus regular unleaded gas. Since E-85 is only 15-20% cleaner, we seem to be treading water. If you factor in the additional costs involved in getting it to market, tanker truck or rail car, vs using pipelines, any reduction in carbon footprint is wiped out. Include the impact to consumers at the grocery check-out line and flex fuel has been a disaster for the American public. If I could dictate, I'd insist on more clean diesel & CNG vehicles from car manufacturers. With diesel you sacrifice no performance issues but double or triple fuel mileage. CNG of course is cleaner.

  • orvr orvr Posts:

    If ethanol is 103 octane plus shouldn't you have been using premium gasoline instead of regular when truly compairing cost per gallon/mile. And why pick a gas hog Tahoe over say a lighter Flex-Fuel vehicle. Yes if the vehicle had been optimized for E85 usage you bet the mileage would have been a whole lot better. Without being optimized the correct mix of ethanol and gasoline for this vehicle would have been 50/50 or E-50. All and all being said if one was compairing an apple to an apple instead of to an orange the outcome would be as thay say in Nevada a "push".

  • ldmff ldmff Posts:

    I live in Nebraska and they have shut down 6 ethanol plants due to high corn prices and many in surrounding states also. It costs more to produce a gallon of ethanol than what you get out of it so therefore Big Gov has to subsidize the industry. It's incredible the amount of water it takes to produce this corrosive fuel thinner, it has to be trucked or railed because pipelines won't go near this stuff therefore making it more expensive to ship. Decades ago Europe embraced the diesel and found it to be more easy to modify to clean up the emissions. The CNG or CLNG is the next best bet but to modify the engines for it is quite expensive I've been told plus its going to take some time and money to setup a fueling network. I've read a few articles where they're trying to convert algae to fuel, algae can be produced in lakes or bogs at a very rapid rate but the conversion to fuel must be cost prohibitive still. Bottom line, ethanol is clearly a bad investment, and the use of corn only drives up livestock feed. I don't know why they can't use other vegetation such as switch grass or some menacing weed like Kudzoo. These are the facts that I've collected over the years, and my own personal experience I've tried ethanol and my pickup ran terrible and my lawnmower was hard to start, so I only use 87 Octane in my pickup and lawnmower now.

  • jocularjoe jocularjoe Posts:

    I'm surprised that Edmunds made a critical mistake in comparing E85 with gasoline. I thought it was common knowledge that ethanol is heavily subsidized by the federal government. That means you, the taxpayer, are paying much more than the price you pay at the pump. The Government's subsidy to the ethanol producers should be factored into the cost as well. I'm sure you would be shocked at the price one actually pays for a gallon of E85. It is not, so long as oil or natural gas is available, a truly viable source for renewable energy. It is sad that Edmunds did not choose to reveal the actual cost to the taxpayer for each gallon of E85. And taking corn away from the food industry hikes your food cost as well.

  • patjdell patjdell Posts:

    Best part about this is the simple multiplication of 85% and 50 gallons of E85 means the E85 run used 42.5 gallons of gasoline, so using the E85 actually used MORE GASOLINE than using the regular gasoline did, 6 gallons or over 16% more gasoline used by using the diluted E85!!! Which also makes me seriously question the CO2 results that were published here unless the ethanol blend is simply producing a different by product to the combustion process that isn't being measured.

  • jharry3 jharry3 Posts:

    Using Ethanol for fuel is a massive fraud on Americans. First off its enriching Cargill and ADM because the laws are tilted in favor of using corn as the base material. Secondly, as this article shows, the fuel milage is horrible compared to gasoline. Then, to top it all of, the entire reason for the switch is to reduce pollution - and it does not do that either. Burning more fuel puts more by-products of combustion into the air. Even if ethanol did really help air quality its production also adds more than subtracts because of the extra fuel needed to cultivate the corn. On top of all this sugar cane makes a much better feed stock for ethanol but the laws set up in favor of ADM/Cargill block this. Next up will be plentiful natural gas as a fuel - I can't wait to see the fiction dreamed up by the rainbow juice crowd against that as a fuel compared to subsidized, dirty, ethanol.

  • 69malibu 69malibu Posts:

    These types of comparrisons are useless, except for propaganda or agenda purposes. Why? Because ethanol is most efficient when the engine has a 13.1;1 compression ratio. No Tahoe or any other vehicle has that. Most range from 8.2:1 to 10.0:1, depending on vehicle. The "yellow cap" program was a sham. The vehicles could have been tweeked to run E85 from the day they were bought, but GM, in all of its infinite wisdom, chose to wait 2 or 3 years, then send letters out prclaiming "dual fuel" capabilities. Also not apples-to-apples is the range. A tank of gasoline will take you farther than a tank of E85 because gasoline has more energy per drop than E85, meaning it takes a little more E85 to produce the same results. The government is in love with corn as a source of ethanol for purely political reasons. Corn is the WORST source, as it requires almost as much energy put in as comes out of a gallon of ethanol...because corn is a "wet" source. It has been demonstarted elsewhere in the world that other sources are far more efficient (sugar cane provides 80% of the E85 used in Brazil for the last 10+ years). Producing efficient E85 engines would take re-tooling the factories and re-training a "we-hate-change union labor force.

  • johntoups johntoups Posts:

    Do the test again, this time with Higher Mixed Alcohol instead of just ethanol. See www.biorootenergy.com to get a better look at what can not only replace ethanol, but gasoline as a whole in the transportaion sector.

  • bytor5 bytor5 Posts:

    Would it be possible to give a nod to scientific fact when writing an article like this? In fact, it is to be expected that the fuel economy for alcohol is worse than for gasoline. That is because ethanol (a form of alcohol) has about 30% less energy content per gallon than gasoline. Therefore, it takes more ethanol to produce the same amount of work (miles driven) as compared to gasoline. The other points may be valid, but this sort of glaring omission really diminishes the credibility of the "test."

  • How can you get 706.5 lbs of CO2 out of 221.7 lbs of gasoline?

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