New E85 pumps open in key states

It’s a small start, but it’s a start nonetheless.

The number of E85 pumps in the US has grown steadily in the last 12 months and is tipped to grow remarkably, most likely in 2008, after safety certification is undertaken by a group called Underwriters Laboratories. Until that happens, its a case of small steps, with retailers carrying some element of risk that’s as yet undetermined with regard to the ability of the pump equipment to withstand the corrosive nature of the fuel.

The news today is that pumps are going to be opening in Los Angeles and New York.

The LA station will be on the West Side, at 11699 San Vicente Blvd and it’s opening next month (June 21). With the current subsidy that ethanol attracts the fuel should be pretty competitively priced and as 1985Gripen pointed out to me via email, most people will just go for the pump with the cheapest price. Here’s hoping they have E85 capable vehicles.

News of the new pumps in New York came via a GM press release:

ALBANY, New York – General Motors joined The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), KNC Holdings, Inc. and public officials for the opening of the first E85 ethanol fuel pumps in the State for public use. Two new E85 pumps, installed by station owner Christian King, are located at the Campus Mobil station on Western Avenue in Albany and at a sister station in Warrensburg. The new fueling locations will be promoted by GM as part of a broader, ongoing national GM campaign to boost the use and awareness of ethanol-based E85 fuel in the United States.

“What we are showcasing today is what New York State has been striving for,” said Peter R. Smith, President and CEO of NYSERDA. “Increasing the use and availability of alternative fuels, such as E85, is of great importance to help move us away from imported petroleum and bring us closer to energy independence.”

As mentioned earlier, 2008 will likely be the year that E85 ramps up a bit faster in the US. Safety certification is a big issue, especially in a litigious country like the US. Once that issue’s been ironed out it should pave the way for an increase in infrastructure and improved E85 access for the public.

When will Saab bring BioPower to the US? Only they know at this point. If ethanol is to become a solidly entrenched alternative fuel in that market then I think the sooner the better. Become a leader with the technology and show that a smaller turbocharged engine is the best way to use the fuel.

Of course, supply may prove to be a consideration in bioPower’s timing too. As reported a few days ago, Saab staffers in Sweden are being told they’ll have to wait until October to get their 9-3 BioPower cars due to demand.

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1 Comment

  1. SAAB USA should push to get BioPower 9-5s here as fast as possible. Remember that BioPower is what made the 9-5 one of the hottest-selling cars in Sweden.

    Heaven knows the 9-5 needs a sales boost in the U.S. Maybe BioPower would help sell a few more 9-5s here. If the 9-3s aren’t available until later, that’s okay.

    I think that if someone has a BioPower 9-5 and experiences running it on E85 they’ll be hooked. It’s even more of a performance difference than running your car off premium unleaded after getting used to regular unleaded! It also doesn’t hurt that it’s cheaper at the pump (though more expensive in the long run when you figure the 25% fewer miles-per-gallon but nobody looks at that. Just look how people compare diesel and gasoline prices. The diesel takes you twice as far but people don’t seem to account for that!).

    This would help drive demand of E85 into new markets as well. If a bunch of new BioPower 9-5 owners in the northeastern U.S. demand E85 then maybe stations will add E85 pumps more quickly when a demand is seen.

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