May 16 2011

What are flex fuel vehicles?

Category: Energy & Fuel


Flex Fuel VehicleFlex-fuel vehicles are vehicles with a unique type of engine that has the ability to accept regular gasoline as well as gasoline mixed with high concentrations of ethanol. The fuel most often associated with these types of vehicles is known as E85 (Ethanol 85) which is comprised of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Flex-fuel vehicles have electronic sensors located in the engine that allows them to adjust to almost any ratio of the gasoline/ethanol fuel mixture. The benefits of E85 over standard gasoline are the potential to decrease the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, lower fuel prices, and the reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. According to, “There are roughly 9 Million Flex fuel vehicles already on the road and GM /Ford/Chrysler have pledged that at least 50% of their production will be flex fuel capable by 2011/2012”. Ethanol does have a number of drawbacks that have kept it from becoming a more accepted and widespread fuel choice including:

  • Limited distribution. Most refilling stations are located in the Midwest.
  • Lower power and fewer miles per gallon compared to gasoline.
  • Large scale corn to ethanol production may be cost prohibitive.
  • Ethanol production may result in a net power loss.

E85 filling stations are becoming more and more common in the US with the majority of them located in the Midwest where corn and ethanol production are centralized. A comprehensive list of flex fuel vehicles can be found at

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