President Bush met with major U.S. automakers on Monday, and all seemed to agree that building flex-fuel vehicles and increasing availability of E85 would greatly benefit the country and the auto business.
Bush, who has proposed the U.S. reduce gasoline consumption 20% over the next decade, says the automakers are with him on flex-fuel and E85, a fuel blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. "American automobile manufacturers recognize the reality of the world in which we live in and are using new technologies to use the consumers different options," he says.
"There's nothing that can be done that can reduce the curb of growth of imported oil, and actually turn it down, like using E85," says General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner in wire service reports. Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda agrees: "We think this is the answer for America to lower our dependence on foreign oil."
A very small number - less than 1% - of U.S. gas stations sell E85. Automakers say that if ethanol blend availability and distribution increases enough, they could make half of their cars and trucks able to run on alternative fuels.
Environmental advocates say that less emphasis should be placed on ethanol and more on increasing fuel efficiency, but Wagoner said that the automakers spent "very little time" talking about gas mileage standards in their meeting with the president.