Foreign carmakers cold to E85

By From| Apr 11 2007
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Foreign carmakers are not as enthusiastic about E85 fuel as their U.S. counterparts are, looking instead to clean diesel and other technologies.

The Financial Times newspaper on Monday quoted Mike Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, as saying his group's members were "skittish" about the fuel, which is being heavily promoted by the Bush administration and the Big Three automakers in Detroit: GM, Ford and Chrysler. The group's members include auto heavyweights, including Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

In a bid to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the Bush administration is promoting alternative fuels, including E85, which is gasoline mixed with 85 percent ethanol. Ethanol in the United States is made mostly from corn and receives a subsidy of about 51 cents per gallon. The rise in demand for ethanol has pushed up corn prices and consequently the prices of poultry, eggs and other foodstuffs.

The Big Three automakers are manufacturing flex-fuel vehicles that can run both on conventional gasoline and E85, but the Financial Times quoted an unnamed Nissan official as saying, "We are more enthusiastic about diesel and electric." Still, many foreign manufactures are making E85 vehicles because, as Stanton told the newspaper, "we have got a train in front of us."

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