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Flex Fuel Cars, Not A Top Priority for Automakers


The Chicago Auto Show is underway this weekend; and, while you can see the latest the auto industry has to offer spread over 1 million square feet of the McCormick Place complex, you will not see a lot of new flex fuel vehicles capable of running on higher blends of ethanol. With more flex fuel pumps offering medium and high blends of ethanol being installed around the nation, the number of flex fuel cars on the road becomes an issue. But auto makers are not rushing to crank out more ethanol-enabled cars off the assembly lines.  James Bell, with General Motors, says GM is committed to renewable fuels but is not ready to make all the cars flex fuel ready, “GM is doing the best we can to make these vehicles avaible.” He said GM has a long tradition of providing consumers with flex fuel cars, spanning over a decade. But he told HAT the lack of an ethanol infrastructure is the problem, “Until we have ethanol fuel available across the country, it is still going to be a limited space.” He added, until the infrastructure is increased, GM will consider flex fuel cars a specialty market.


Electric and Hybrid models were getting plenty of splash with each having a special section on the CAS web site. It was recently announced that over $8 billion was going to be spent to put in electric charging stations in Chicago to foster the use of electric cars. Bell said in the future consumers will be able to choose from a variety of different kinds of cars, powered by many different energy sources, “You will be able to chose a car that fits your driving needs, lots of highway miles or just running around the city.” He said there will be cars that use renewable fuels, hybrids, electric, diesel, and other fuel sources. The ethanol industry has complained that auto makers are not doing enough to inform consumers about their fuel choices. Ethanol supporters says it costs auto makers very little to make a vehicle a flex fuel vehicle.  Bell disputes that and says there is a significant investment needed to make a car capable of using higher blends of ethanol.


First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in the nation and has been staged more times than any other auto exposition.  Exhibitions will include: multiple world and North American introductions; a complete range of domestic and imported passenger cars and trucks; sport utility vehicles; and experimental and concept cars. In addition to the vehicles on display, show patrons  will also find: numerous aftermarket, accessories and auto-related exhibits; competition vehicles; and antique collector cars.

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