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Survey says: Ethanol is Undesirable

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author photo by Autotrader June 2010

As drivers, we still like to go with what we know. That's the findings of the 2010 AutoTechcast study carried out by Harris Interactive, a market research company. When asked about gasoline, diesel or flex-fuel engines that can also run on E85, an ethanol-based fuel, respondents proved more likely to opt for more economical gasoline-only methods of propulsion.

One in five would consider purchasing a new gasoline-powered vehicle with a start/stop system (where the engine turns itself off when the car is stopped at traffic lights, for example, then fire up again as soon as the throttle pedal is activated) if it added $500 to the sticker price. But if a flex-fuel vehicle was $250 more expensive, only 16 percent would take that option.

This is not due to some misinformed stance. E85 has less energy per gallon than gasoline, so flex-fuel users see higher consumption rates. The AAA puts the current average price of regular at $2.70. To get the same amount of energy from E85 would work out to $2.88. Neither is it a magic bullet to help the environment; E85 has its own share of undesirable emissions.

Despite many excellent offerings from German manufacturers, diesel isn't exactly racing up the approval charts either. Just 14 percent of those questioned were so inclined. And there's still plenty of wariness concerning alternative fuels: fuel cell engines, hybrid-electrics and plug-in hybrids scored four percent each, while completely electric vehicles only appealed to two percent of those quizzed. Ten percent liked the idea of compressed natural gas, however.

Although gasoline is still king, Harris Interactive's senior research director, David Duganne, sees an underlying development. "Consideration for clean diesel engines has been consistent over the past several years, while that of flexible fuel engines has decreased." He believes interest in clean diesel will increase, but expects flex-fuel buyers to decline, something that will accelerate as other alternative fuels come more into the mainstream.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Survey says: Ethanol is Undesirable - Autotrader