Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Conversion Aversion

E-85 Conversion kits
Information gleaned from the Minnesota Corn Growers via the Linder Farm Network e newsletter on April 25, 2008 indicates that folks should wait a little longer before investing in an E85 conversion kit. High gasoline prices and continuing concerns about energy security and the air quality have spurred a small cottage industry of manufacturers to create kits to outfit conventional cars with the equipment needed to burn E85 fuel, an 85 percent blend of ethanol with 15 percent petroleum. Some of those manufacturers, along with automobile experts, ethanol advocates and government officials gathered on April 15 at the headquarters of American Lung Association of Minnesota to discuss the current state of these kits. Automobile manufacturers Ford and General Motors remain wary as the first conversion kit makers apply for EPA approval. A representative of CFO FlexFuel spoke about his company, which has gained approval for its first kit, in this case to make 2006 Crown Victoria sedans flexible fuel. The City of Chicago has begun converting a fleet of approximately 1,000 vehicles using the kit.
"There was talk about how fleets make the most sense for conversion kits," said John Mages, a farmer from Belgrade, Minnesota, who serves as chairman of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association Expanded Uses Team. Initial problems discovered during the Chicago project have been corrected, according to a spokesman for CFO FlexFuel. The company plans to come out with a kit for F150 trucks shortly. "The main thing I took out of the meeting was that the vehicle manufacturers are not in favor of these kits, yet, and the biggest reason why is they are worried about warrantee issues," said Riley Maanum, research assistant with Minnesota Corn Growers Association. "The message we got was, 'don't encourage people to buy these kits on the Internet, because there is a ways to go. At a minimum, the buyer needs to get proof from the manufacturer that its product has gained EPA approval-many of the kits advertised over the Internet have not." end

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