Flex-fuel vehicles run clean, save money

Miranda Malo

Miranda Malo

Driving certain cars, pickups and sports utility vehicles could save you 15 to 25 cents a gallon each time you fuel up.

Flex-fuel vehicles can burn gasoline, up to 85 percent ethanol or any combination of the two. The savings add up because E-85 (fuel that’s 85 percent made from corn) is historically less pricey than traditional gasoline.

There are approximately 4.5 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road today, and only 1 to 2 percent of their drivers are buying E-85.

Matt Einspahr, of Einspahr Auto Plaza, said that he is seeing an increased demand for flex-fuel vehicles. Their most popular models include the Ford Taurus, Dodge and Chrysler minivans and the Ford Explorer.

“I would say flex fuel vehicles are as popular here as anywhere in the country. Obviously we’re in a farming community where we grow a lot of corn,” Einspahr said. “As gas prices stay higher, you’re going to increase demand [for flex-fuel vehicles].”

Those in the market for a new or used vehicle might want to consider the benefits of driving one with flex-fuel technology. Aside from saving some cash, they could help out the environment and the local economy.

“It’s a clean-burning fuel. It’s been proven to reduce greenhouse gases,” said Michelle Kautz, director of communications for the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

It is less toxic in a gas spill, too.

“It’s just like pouring alcohol on the ground. It evaporates,” she said.

Flex-fuel vehicles benefit the local economy, Kautz said.

“It is good for our farmers. It reduces our dependence on foreign oil,” she said.

Although there is a 5 to 15 percent drop in gas mileage from burning E-85, the fuel is usually so much cheaper that it compensates for it.

The best part is that there is no mark-up on flex-fuel vehicles.

“There is no extra cost with any of the flex-fuel vehicles we sell,” Einspahr said.

However, buying fuel for the vehicle can be difficult. There are only around 400 stations in the United States that sell E-85, but most of them are located in the Midwest. South Dakota has 18. Lloyd’s BP Amoco, located across the highway from the Brookings Inn, is the only station in town to carry it.

Einspahr encourages people to purchase a flex-fuel vehicle.

“We stock flex-fuel vehicles whenever we can,” he said. “I think it’s a great deal.”

#1.885232:574762080.jpg:e85 01.jpg:Llyod´s BP Amoco is the only E-85 station in Brookings.: