Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Sal asks: Given the government’s push for ever-higher fuel efficiency from new cars, why does the government also push less-energy-dense fuels? I mean, of course, ethanol. Your thoughts always appreciated!
My reply. Indeed. It is a very interesting question.
Almost all the gas sold in the United States contains about 10 percent ethanol. Put another way, a gallon of this stuff is only 90 percent gas. The 10 percent that is ethanol contains less energy than the 90 percent that is gas and so the resultant mix contains less energy than a gallon of 100 percent gas.
This lower energy-content “gas” reduces fuel efficiency by about 2-3 percent, depending on the vehicle.
Put another way, Americans could enjoy a 2-3 percent increase in gas mileage if they were able to buy 100 percent gas – and that is a much more substantial (and cost-effective) way to improve gas mileage than via cylinder deactivation, ASS and direct injection.
The answer is the political sway of the ethanol lobby – the huge agribusiness combines that have succeeded in rent-seeking into existence something called the Renewable Fuels Standard – which requires that “x” percent of all the fuel sold in the United States be “renewable,” which effectively means corn alcohol – ethanol.
Very few politicians dare to criticize the ethanol boondoggle because they need the support of the lobby – and the voters in “corn” states, especially Iowa.
It’s another example of what’s awry with America. One group using the power of the government to mulct another group.
As opposed to government preventing anyone from being mulcted for the benefit of someone else.
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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