Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Flex fuel vehicles sell out. That means there are fewer flex fuel cars for sale than there are people who want to buy them.
Why the reluctance on the part of automakers? Who knows? But one thing we do know — Americans want flex fuel cars for lots of different reasons, and they want them even now — even while there are very few fueling stations providing the option of buying American-made fuel (except in the Midwest). Even with that enormous drawback, Americans still buy up all the flex fuel vehicles automakers can manufacture.
If alcohol fueling stations were more prevalent, even more people would want flex fuel cars. I just came across this letter to GM on the GM Insider Customer Discussion:
Several years ago you announced that by 2012, more than 50% of your cars will be flex-fuel.
The last couple of years, the build-out of E85 pumps has been slow but steady. I now have gone three years without having to buy gasoline. My state, Michigan, has 132 E85 stations, so I can get E85 about wherever I go now. Been through the Midwest with no problem finding E85 thanks to E85prices.com's maps.
Now the problem: I cannot purchase a 4-cylinder fuel-efficient Chevy car with flex-fuel capability. And that's just wrong.
Sure, I can get a V6 Impala, and get a flex-fuel model. But you don't sell any Malibus to retail in flex-fuel. Can't even order it as an option. What's up with that? It costs you less than $100 more to make a car flex-fuel, and I can't buy a Malibu from a dealer that way.
Nor can I buy the shiny new Cruze in flex-fuel. It was supposed to be. It was advertised for months, before production started, that it was going to be a 1.4 liter turbo flex-fuel. Then, suddenly, one day all talk of E85 for the Cruze stopped, and when the car was finally in US production, it's not a flex-fuel car. What's up with that?
Please, GM, make your leading models — Cruze and Malibu — available retail with a flex-fuel option, if nothing else. I'd gladly pay an extra $100 or $200 for the ability to avoid ever having to buy Arab-made gasoline again. In the meantime, I'll have to continue driving my 2005 Dodge Stratus flex-fuel 2.7 liter car, and wait for the GM car of my dreams to be made.
A future customer who is patiently waiting for a flex-fuel Cruze or Malibu.
Auto manufacturers don't want a mandate. And who can blame them? Nobody likes being told what to do. A good solution, then, would be for at least one of you automakers to voluntarily make your whole fleet flex fuel right now. Lead the way. See if you can get there before the Open Fuel Standard Act is passed. Show your true colors to the American people, and show up the other automakers. You'll make history if you do.