Both Ford and General Motors are hoping to be better late than never to the world auto industry's alternative-fuel and alternative-energy party. Using the Chicago Auto Show as a springboard to show how into it they can be, (as if the Super Bowl wasn't enough) each automaker is jumping in to the ethanol pool with both feet. Ford announced that it will launch what they're calling a "Midwest Ethanol Corridor" by expanding E85 ethanol availability; by 1/3 in Illinois and Missouri this year, and by less quantified amounts in neighboring states as well. The first steps to create said Corridor will be to convert approximately 40 existing gasoline fuel pumps to E85 in Illinois and Missouri. Ford estimates there are 50,000 owners of Ford flexible fuel vehicles (FFV) in Illinois and 28,000 in Missouri, and they'll produce up to 250,000 ethanol-capable vehicles in 2006. Since they were already there in Chicago, Ford also announced that it is working with the city of Chicago to put hybrid taxi cabs on the roads of the Windy City beginning in 2007 (similar to the programs already rolling in New York and San Francisco).Not to be outdone, GM announced that they'll be lending a hand (through collaborative partnerships with Shell Oil Products US and VeraSun Energy Corp) in the addition of 26 additional E85 refueling pumps to six stations in greater Chicago. The collaboration is part of a national GM campaign to boost the use and awareness of E85 fuel here in the States, and they sound excited about it. Said Elizabeth Lowery, GM vice president of environment and energy, "GM is pursuing gasoline-savings solutions on many fronts on the way to our ultimate vision of hydrogen fuel cell-powered transportation. E85 ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and is a renewable, domestic fuel that can enhance the nation's economy and energy security."
Stories like this are interesting to us, for a number of reasons. In the past, it's been easy to get down on these American automakers for their un-TreeHugging practices of producing gas-guzzling, emission-spewing perpetuators of our oil addiction. While they haven't completely turned it around, baby steps sure beats nothing. Ethanol and other biofuels have been hot our collective tongue lately, especially since the recent State of the Union address, and these announcements may very well have been spun accordingly. We aren't going to judge them for these announcements and efforts, though, regardless of how transparent (or not) they happen to be. To this end, Joel Makower has an excellent post at Two Steps Forward which is well worth reading for anyone who wants to delve further into the dynamics of writing about green cars in the green blogosphere. via ::Green Car Congress, ::GM Serious About Ethanol And Flex-Fuel Vehicles?