Harkin, Lugar Introduce Measure To Increase Number of Flex-fuel Vehicles

Washington, D.C. – Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) today introduced a bill to expand the number of flex-fuel (FFV) vehicles, those that are specially designed to run on gasoline or any blend of up to 85% ethanol (E85). The lawmakers urged that more FFVs be manufactured and available to U.S. motorists so that the country can reduce its dependence on foreign oil, cut back greenhouse gas emissions and bolster rural economic development.
Automakers are currently selling dual fuel vehicles that can operate on ethanol-gasoline blends up to 85 percent ethanol, but currently FFVs make up less than 10 percent of new vehicles sold in the United States.  The lawmakers believe we need to sharply accelerate the number of such vehicles to enable continued expansion of ethanol in transportation fuel markets.  The bill will expand the number of vehicles at a rapid pace, but will not impose undue production cost challenges for auto manufacturers. 
“More and more ethanol is being produced, and we need to keep increasing production in order to break our addiction to foreign oil.  Yet to make full use of the increased ethanol we can produce and need to produce, we must have more vehicles on the road which can use up to 85-percent ethanol,” said Harkin. “This bill will give consumers the flex-fuel vehicles they want to drive so they can use greater quantities of domestic, renewable fuels.  And as they use more of those domestic renewable fuels, that will help rebuild U.S. energy security while improving economic growth, creating new jobs and increasing farm income in this country.”
“We depend on oil from foreign-government controlled supplies for our transportation energy needs.  This jeopardizes U.S. security and prosperity.  Therefore, we must attain genuine energy security with supplies sufficient enough to grow our economy and insulate us from foreign manipulation.  Renewable energy offers the greatest hope to wed our energy security needs with economic growth and environmental stewardship,” Lugar said. “This bill with improve the demand for homegrown fuel.
The Dual Fuel Automobile Act of 2008 calls for 50 percent of all light-duty vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States to be dual fuel automobiles by 2011.  It increases that to 90 percent of all light-duty vehicles manufactured for U.S. sales by 2013.  These requirements are reasonable because it is known that gasoline vehicles require relatively minor changes in fuel system designs to be able to use blends of gasoline and ethanol, which qualify them for dual fuel designation. 
Harkin and Lugar have partnered together on several efforts to boost access to renewable energy.  In March 2007, the two introduced The Ethanol Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2007, directing the Department of Energy to conduct a feasibility study on transporting ethanol by pipeline.  The measure was included in the energy bill that became law on December 19, 2007.  An expanded version of that measure was also included in the farm bill, the Food Conservation and Energy Act, which became law on May 22, 2008.  The two have also supported a robust Renewable Fuels Standard.  Both cosponsored the Fuels Security Act of 2005, calling for at least 8 billion gallons of ethanol to be used annually by 2012