A Turn of the Gas Cap

Farmer Iron

A little on-road ethanol lesson from Toyota may be a surprise to farmers.

Published on: April 23, 2012

Note: I'm planning on hosting a tour to Scandanavia in early August, where we'll see plenty of unique farming operations and other sights along the way. The 10-day tour should be fascinating. You can learn more by visiting Scandanavia Tour. Plan on joining me. Deadline for signing up is June 1.

Usually this blog looks at farm equipment and issues surrounding this important asset on your farm, but this installment is a bit of a tirade on another farm-related issue - E15. Or rather, the potential for the enhanced ethanol mix IF the auto industry doesn't short circuit you. Yep, not the oil companies the auto industry.

GAS CAP SURPRISE: So a Toyota RAV-4 has this little note on the filler cap. Interesting.
GAS CAP SURPRISE: So a Toyota RAV-4 has this little note on the filler cap. Interesting.

Recently I've had the luck to rent Toyota RAV-4 sport utility vehicles in two locations - Denver and Chicago. Fun to drive, comfortable. All the things you'd expect from a Toyota right? But with a bit of an anti-ag attitude I was surprised to see.

When it came time to refill the tank (always do that before returning a rental car, trust me) I got a little surprise. When I opened the filler door I was greeted by a gas cap with more writing on it than I had ever seen. Plenty of warnings, issues about turning it 1-click to avoid the engine light coming on - but there was one fact that stuck out regarding the fuel you could use.

This was not a flex-fuel vehicle, so I saw the "no E85" warning, but then was surprised to notice that E15 was also prohibited! Yep, even as our friends in the ethanol business are working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enhance use of this renewable fuel, a new 2012 Toyota is already ahead of you - telling consumers not to use it.

I don't know what you think of ethanol. Beef producing readers probably don't care for it; corn producing readers have to have a grudging love of it (really!). But when a car company as big as Toyota gets this proactive even BEFORE the fuel is offered in the market, you have to wonder about their thinking.

Newer model cars have the ability to burn E15 just fine, tests have shown it. And EPA is close to allowing the sale of the higher blend. Of course, consumers aren't going to use it if the ol' gas cap says they can't. It's an interesting development at a time when the U.S. ethanol industry is working to grow the market.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Collusion between Big Oil and Big Auto. Won't buy a 2012 Lexus now. I grow corn and E-15 has been approved for use in ALL US cars after 2001. Unbelievable! Toyota can put that cap where the sun doesn't shine!

  4. W. Vogt says:

    EPA has signed off on this after studies, and will approve it. Just surprised to see Toyota so quickly proactive - has anyone seen this on other new cars?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I'm pretty sure that at one time Toyota released a study that with their vehicles E-20 had a higher MPG rate than E-10. Seems strange that they'd ban E-15. Still think there's collusion between oil companies and car manufacturers. Fuel efficiency didn't go up until bailout, and foreign car companies were left behind.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Legal Liability or maybe they don't agree with the studies you have seen.

  7. W. Vogt says:

    It was never my intent to "pick on" one car company. In fact, others are also sending the same signal. This is just an observation, it's the first time I'd seen that move, and I found it curious that a car company would jump out ahead of that issue. Regardless what you think of ethanol, blocking a product from the market in this way is curious. Toyota makes great vehicles, and they've chosen this approach. I appreciate all the comments here.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There are a lot of new vehicles that do not burn E-85 or E-15, don't pick on just one car industry

  9. Anonymous says:

    I know it is revolutionary thinking these days, but what about letting market economic forces determine the appropriate mix of ethanol in gasoline. I know, dumb idea EPA knows best. Next government should decide how many acres of corn needs to be planted, no way can we leave that critical decision up to the silly farmers. If they would just plant more corn and less soybeans it would be cheaper to use corn for ethanol and gas prices would go down. Hey I figured it out, government control of corn supply that is the answer. We will deal with that pesky nitrogen price problem with our next government control board.

  10. Anonymous says:

    More expensive: worse economy! where is the sense?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I suspect the EPA is currently more driven by environmental politics vs. concerns of car owners and manufacturers.