GM Launches Public Campaign to Promote E85 'Flex-Fuel' Vehicle

GM Launches Public Campaign to Promote E85 'Flex-Fuel' Vehicle

At this week's Chicago Auto Show, General Motors is launching a major consumer awareness program to promote and encourage the use of E85 "flex-fuel" vehicles. The company also announced additional E85 refueling pumps to stations in greater Chicago through collaborative partnerships with Shell Oil Products US and VeraSun Energy Corp.

To promote E85 fuel and vehicles, GM has launched a "Live Green Go Yellow" marketing and advertising campaign, which debuted in commercials aired during the Super Bowl.

The E85 partnership and marketing campaign are designed to encourage greater E85 use and showcase GM's E85 FlexFuel vehicle leadership to U.S. consumers. E85 FlexFuel vehicles can run on any combination of gasoline and/or E85, a fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. E85 can contribute to energy independence because it diversifies the source of transportation fuels beyond petroleum, and it provides positive environmental benefits in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“GM is pursuing gasoline-savings solutions on many fronts on the way to our ultimate vision of hydrogen fuel cell-powered transportation,” said Elizabeth Lowery, GM vice president of environment and energy. “E85 ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and is a renewable, domestic fuel that can enhance the nation’s economy and energy security.”

With 1.5 million flexible-fuel vehicles already on the road, GM is a leader in flexible-fuel vehicle production and sales. GM has nine models that are E85-capable, and plans to add more than 400,000 E85-capable vehicles to the fleet in 2006. At the same time, worldwide production of ethanol is increasing every year, and is expected to triple by 2020.

South Dakota-based VeraSun Energy, the nation’s second-largest producer of ethanol, announced the availability of VE85 at 20 Gas City stations in the Chicago metro area. VE85 is VeraSun’s branded E85. As part of the initiative, GM will promote the availability of the fuel with consumer and dealer outreach. The collaboration is similar to one VeraSun and GM entered into last May in the Sioux Falls , S.D. area.

“These initiatives are important to the nation on various levels and are clearly in line with the president’s path toward energy independence,” said Bill Honnef, VeraSun vice president of sales and marketing. “We commend General Motors for not only producing flexible-fuel vehicles, but for taking a leadership role in educating consumers to the benefits of FFV ownership and E85 use. Together we are committed to expanding both awareness and availability of E85.”

Shell, the No. 1 gasoline brand in the U.S. , will participate in a test pilot with GM to gauge consumer interest in alternative fuels by monitoring behavior at the pump. Shell will supply E85 refueling pumps at approximately six stations in Chicago , and GM will market the availability of those stations to its customers and dealers. Shell is likely the world’s leading marketer of fuels containing bio-components and the company has the largest portfolio of fuels. In fact, Shell Hydrogen partnered with GM in 2003 to open a hydrogen demonstration refueling station in Washington , D.C.

“We are investing in technologies and partnerships that will make Shell the leading provider of next-generation fuel solutions; and this pilot program with General Motors gives us a unique opportunity to test consumer openness to alternative fuels in a real-world situation,” said Dan Little, Fuels Manager, Shell Oil Products US. “Today, Shell has the broadest fuel technology portfolio, and pilots like this demonstrate our capability and commitment to meeting the transportation needs of our customers and society now and in the future.”

In early January, GM announced a joint demonstration project with the state of California , Chevron Technology Ventures and Pacific Ethanol. In addition, as part of its broader objective to promote E85 awareness and use, GM has partnered with ethanol champions such as the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition and the Governors’ Ethanol Coalition. With the GEC collaboration, GM has loaned E85 flex-fuel vehicles to 28 states and organizations so that they may use them to educate the public and promote the benefits of using ethanol.

GM also will leverage its OnStar technology in the E85 promotion effort: Customers with an active OnStar subscription needing help locating an E85 station can contact an OnStar advisor, who will provide the nearest station’s address, city and phone number to Safe & Sound package subscribers and full route support to Directions & Connections subscribers. There are currently 420 E85 stations in OnStar’s database, with plans to update the database six times a year.

“Partnerships such as the one announced today are important because, ultimately, it requires ethanol providers and vehicle manufacturers working together to maximize availability and consumer use of E85,” said Phillip Lampert, executive director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition. “I applaud GM’s commitment to E85 and its significant presence in the flexible-fuel marketplace.”

Research has shown that many owners of flex-fuel vehicles do not know that their vehicles are capable of using E85. To remedy that knowledge gap, some owners of GM FlexFuel vehicles will receive yellow fuel caps to remind them that their vehicles are E85-capable; later this year, all new GM FlexFuel vehicles will be equipped with yellow fuel caps at the factory.

GM’s commitment to ethanol-blended fuels is not confined to North America. Globally, GM has a large fleet of vehicles that run on bioethanol in Brazil , where it is the most available fuel. In December 2005, 78 percent of vehicles sold by GM do Brasil were equipped with Flexpower, which provides capability to run on 100-percent ethanol. In Europe , the E85-powered Saab 9-5 BioPower accounts for 80 percent of all 9-5 sales in Sweden. The vehicle was recently named to Popular Science magazine’s “Best of What’s New” list.