The Iowa Corn Growers Association is urging Iowa's congressional delegation to make sure that any bill to bail out U.S. automakers includes an agreement to increase the availability of flexible-fuel vehicles that can burn E85 fuel.
"The economy and jobs are important, but if the Big Three automakers are going to survive, they need to produce more of the vehicles Americans want," says Jerry Main, chair of the ICGA committee that oversees ethanol issues. "After this year's experience with sky-high oil and gasoline prices, a lot more Americans are interested in FFVs that run cleaner and rely on domestically produced biofuels like ethanol."
Doesn’t cost much more to make an FFV
If automakers want public support, Main says they should reconfirm an earlier agreement that at least half of their new vehicles will be FFVs by 2012 and make a further commitment that 80% will be FFVs by 2015.
"If we get this agreement now, Detroit will have plenty of time to adjust their production," Main says, noting that it can take only $100 more to produce an FFV instead of a conventional vehicle. "In return, a consumer may save hundreds, even thousands of dollars in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicle."
Main says an additional 100 million new FFVs need to be on the road by 2022 to consume the biofuels mandated by Congress. In addition to putting an FFV requirement in the Detroit bailout, he notes that corn growers support passage of the Open Fuel Standard Act (S. 3033), which would expand greener options by applying FFV requirements to all manufacturers of new cars sold in the U.S.