What you need to know to get on the road with E85
Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) can run on both E85 and
conventional gasoline. There are millions of FFVs on
the road today.
Why is it called E85?
E85 is the term for motor fuel blends of 85 percent ethanol and just 15 percent gasoline. Like all ethanol-based fuel sources, E85 has the potential to boost our state and national economy and reduce our dependence on petroleum.
Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV)
E85 is designed to be used in Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV). A Flexible Fuel Vehicle is a car or truck that can operate on any blend of ethanol up to 85 percent. With a Flex Fuel Vehicle you can alternate fuel sources, so if you are regularly running with E85 and it’s not available for your next fill-up, it’s no problem to choose regular unleaded gas (E10).
Is my car E85 compatible?
Today, nine million vehicles on U.S. highways are FFVs. In 2011, six different car manufacturers are offering more than 60 models of FFVs. Based on information provided by the New York State DMV, approximately 230,000 FFVs were registered in New York in 2007. That number doubled to approximately 460,000 registered vehicles by January 2011. Considering that most of the auto manufacturers are continually increasing the number of models that are available as Flex Fuel Vehicles, and the big three American car companies have committed that 50 percent of the total vehicles they sell will be flex-fuel by the 2015 model year, NYSERDA expects the total number of FFVs in New York to continue increasing rapidly.
To determine if your car is E85 compatible, refer to your owner’s manual or check here for a list of E85-compatible car models. You can also download a brochure that names all flex fuel vehicles manufactured during the last 10 years.
Where can I buy E85?
The number of E85 retailers is growing. To find one near you, use the US Department of Energy’s Fuel Station Locator. Planning a trip? Bookmark the locator site so you can plot your fill-ups of E85 across the country.
Will I notice a difference in performance?
E85 is designed to operate in engines found in Flex Fuel Vehicles. You can run alternating tanks of E85 and gasoline without adjustment to your FFV engine. No noticeable difference in vehicle performance is evident when E85 is used in a Flex Fuel Vehicle. However, FFVs operating on E85 can experience a 25–30 percent drop in miles per gallon (MPG) due to ethanol’s lower energy content.*
Fast enough for IndyCar
In 2007, the IndyCar series made the switch to ethanol-based fuels, using 98 to 100 percent ethanol in all participating racecars. In addition to being sufficiently powerful for high-performance racecars, ethanol offers several other benefits to IndyCar. Ethanol is safer and less harsh than methanol (the fuel IndyCar had been using previously) and less harmful in the event of a crash. It also gets better gas mileage than methanol and allowed for a decrease in the size of IndyCar fuel tanks.
*West, Brian H., Alberto J. Lopez, Timothy J. Theiss, Ronald L. Graves, John M. Storey, and Samuel A. Lewis. 2007. Fuel Economy and Emissions of the Ethanol-Optimized Saab 9-5 Biopower. SAE Technical Paper 2007-01-3994.