Mary Beth Stanek, energy and environment director for GM, said that over the next two or three years, her company will work towards the installation of 10,000 new gas pumps that sell E85, a fuel mixture of 85 percent ethanol. Her words amplified remarks GM CEO Rick Wagoner made at CES earlier this month.
The current concentration of ethanol pumps is in the Midwest, but Stanek said they would grow geographically and numerically as the price of oil rises and the price of ethanol declines. Currently, regular gas averages $3.07 a gallon while E85 averages $3.33. Stanek said that the energy bill signed last month, which mandates a five-fold increase in ethanol blending by 2022, will make the product cheaper, although Citigroup claims otherwise.
According to Stanek, GM helps service stations add pumps by finding grant money to ease conversion costs. Then, when they pumps are in, the company alerts their flex-fuel customers of new pumps nearby. GM annually produces around 1 million flex-fuel vehicles.
In addition, GM announced that it had invested in the start-up biofuel company Coskata, Inc., which has developed a process to bring ethanol made from sources other than corn to the market by 2011. Coskata says that for less than $1 per gallon, it can produce new fuel from carbon rich sources, such as old tires.
Ethanol has other critics, too.