Flexing the Alternative Fuel Muscle

So, I heard an ad on the radio today by a local car dealership (sorry, can’t remember which dealership) touting its fleet of flex-fuel cars. I like to think I’m pretty aware and up on the latest movements, but that was a new one for me. Obviously, there are a few hints in the name and with all the current momentum regarding finding alternatives to oil dependency I had a few ideas, but not a solid understanding.

Once I got home, I looked it up, and it seems that for the best insights, one should go to Brazil, where ethanol accounts for 40% of fuel that goes into the cars that fill their roads and highways. Many of these cars sport engines that allow the driver to switch between ethanol and gasoline – and that, albeit a simple definition, is a flex-fuel car.

The part I found rather ironic is that, although it isn’t a type of car that has ever been mentioned much by the car industry or mainstream media here in the States, it is one that various American automakers have produced on some level – and that level was the one where they sought to do a little bit to get breaks from fuel-economy standards (for more information on this topic, just search the internet for CAFE standards, there are all kinds of articles out there). But if the law of unintended consequences kicks in, won’t it be interesting to see if this type of car could actually gain more traction in the markets?

And yes, one could argue that the move to flex-fuel cars would not be an unintended consequence based on the original purpose of CAFE, but I doubt that increased production and sales of this type of car were ever the intention of the automakers. Plus, increasing popularity of this type of car is just speculation at this point, but it might be interesting to keep a lookout in the Denver area and see if this car can move into the mainstream and if it is even a part of any viable energy solution.

Any input on where you can get ethanol in Denver is also welcome since I have no idea on this part of the topic.

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