Ford, Chrysler, GM speak up for ethanol

By EPM Associate Editor Jessica Williams | May 01, 2006
The Big Three automakers—Ford Motor Co., Chrysler and General Motors (GM)—visited Capitol Hill on May 18 to encourage Congress to pass legislation that would make ethanol fuel more widely available.

Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda, Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Bill Ford, and General Motors Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said their companies supported the "25x25" Initiative, an effort led by the Energy Future Coalition and supported by agricultural and forestry groups to have 25 percent of U.S. transportation needs met by renewable fuels by 2025.

The three companies also discussed plans to increase production of flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) for consumer scale. Currently, there are more than 5 million E85-capable FFVs on the road, and Ford, Chrysler and GM plan to sell nearly 1 million more in 2006. Six million FFVs fueled by ethanol would displace 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline per year, according to Ford Motor Co.

To help ramp up FFV production and for the "25x25" goal to be met, the three CEOs said renewable fuels should be available at about 20 percent to 30 percent of the nation's approximate 170,000 gas stations. Currently, about 600 gas stations carry E85, and such an increase in E85 pumps would reach 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to Ford Motor Co.

The three CEOs expressed interest in meeting with President George W. Bush in the future to discuss these ideas, according to Max Gates, Chrysler communications manager. "It's worthwhile to get [them] together to exchange thoughts on these key issues," Gates told EPM. "There was speculation that [the CEOs] were asking for a handout, and that's not what this was. They wanted to address things like our dependence on foreign oil, gas prices and pursuing the alternatives. Renewables can help us."

LaSorda, Ford and Wagoner arrived at Capitol Hill in decorated FFVs. For example, Chrysler sent its Town and Country minivan—with its patented and popular Stow ‘N Go seating—that had the slogan "Stow ‘N Goes on Ethanol" on the exterior.

A day earlier, Ford Motor Co.'s Vice President for Environmental and Safety Engineering Sue Cischke visited members of Congress to express support for bipartisan legislation that would offer a reimbursement of up to $30,000 to gas station owners who convert their pumps to renewable fuels. Sens. John Thune, R-S.D.; Ken Salazar, D-Colo.; and Jim Talent, R-Mo., have cosponsored the Alternative Energy Refueling Act of 2006 (S. 2614), and a similar measure in currently in the House. "By providing the necessary incentives, this innovative measure will help us expand the infrastructure and use of renewable fuels in America—helping provide relief to Americans at the pump and lessening our dependence on foreign oil," Cischke said.

For more information on the "25x25" Initiative, visit For more information on the Energy Future Coalition, go to