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.