Ford Motor Company and Vera Sun Energy Corporation launched the nation's first ethanol corridor in St. Louis, Mo., Thursday that aims to make E85 more readily available to motorists who own flex-fuel vehicles. The first phase of the program will convert gasoline fuel pumps to E85 for stations primarily along I-55 in Illinois and I-70 in Missouri. The conversion will boost availability of E85 in the two states by about one-third.
The effort includes support from the Illinois Corn Growers Association. "The Midwest Ethanol Corridor will boost the availability of E85 and increase the fuel choice for drivers of flexible fuel vehicles," says ICGA president John Kuhfuss. "The corridor is significant not only because of the increased access of the fuel to consumers, but also because it signifies Ford's ongoing commitment to vehicles that run on clean and renewable energy."
Ford currently offers four Flexible Fuel Vehicles including the 2006 F-150 pickup, Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car, and will produce up to 250,000 FFVs this year. The company has also committed to doubling the number of biofuel capable vehicles by 2010. There are about 5 million FFVs on the road today, but with limited E85 pump availability. Out of more than 180,000 retail fuel stations, fewer than 700 offer E85.
The first phase of the Midwest Ethanol Corridor will provide more than 50 additional locations to pump E85 in Illinois and Missouri through Vera Sun and other ethanol providers. The corridor was designed to provide FFV owners the ability to drive between Chicago and Kansas City along the I-55 and I-70 corridors, fueling exclusively with E85. Selected stations along the corridor are prepared to begin delivering the fuel to drivers right away.
The corridor will increase the availability of VeraSun's branded E85, with the addition of 14 new retail locations along Interstate 55 in Illinois, from St. Louis to Chicago. A second corridor from St. Louis to Kansas City along Interstate 70 will launch in a later phase.