2024 is likely to see competition between EVs and ethanol-powered hybrids heat up as the ethanol industry makes a play for a share of the carbon-reducing vehicle market and EPA moves to finalize tough new auto emission rules. The EPA proposed in 2023 among the toughest new car pollution rules that could force EVs to make up two-thirds of new cars sold in the U.S. by 2032, cutting their emissions in half.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told a Growth Energy summit that farmers should stop blaming electric vehicles and look to expand ethanol markets in aviation and other ways.
Vilsack says, “Farmers come up to me and they say, ‘Ah, would you stop talking about electric vehicles.’ No, because we want to make sure that we continue to have manufacturing in this country. It’s not going to put you guys out of business. It’s not. We’re going to have cars that use ethanol for a long, long time.”
But Renewable Fuels Association head Geoff Cooper argues EVs could suppress ethanol demand and are not a panacea. Cooper says, “They, in most cases, do not deliver the range that was advertised, that they have problems in extremely hot weather or extremely cold weather, that there are problems with finding places to charge these vehicles.”
Cooper says the RFA’s been road testing a plug-in hybrid flex fuel vehicle that uses E85; “If you are truly interested, and if you are truly serious about reducing carbon emissions and doing it at the lowest cost possible for consumers and doing it in a way that doesn’t compromise or sacrifice vehicle range and convenience, this is what we’ve got to be looking at.”
Cooper says the test vehicle, a Ford Escape, got 440 miles out of a full tank of E85 and full charge–nearly double that of a comparable EV.