May 15, 2019
A Midwest consumer advocacy group is imploring automakers to stay committed to flex-fuel vehicles, which offer American car buyers real choice—on the lot and at the pump. Seeking 20,000-plus signatures, the grassroots group has launched a petition in response to a noticeable downtick in the number of FFVs being manufactured and model types available to prospective car buyers.
Chris Schwarck, of Mason City, Iowa, kicked off the campaign after hearing about General Motors’ apparent retreat from FFVs in favor of other powertrain priorities. “It became apparent to many of us that car manufacturers, in particular General Motors, are moving away from flex-fuel vehicles as we know them today,” Schwarck explained in an e-mail to ethanol producers and corn growers last week. “Many of you have probably had as difficult a purchasing experience as I have in trying to buy a flex-fuel vehicle in a size vehicle you would like. It appears they do not really care what you want; it’s more of “this is what we have” type of thing. In my view, if we are to achieve our goal of selling more gallons of alcohol, we must have more flex-fuel vehicles to do it.”
Schwarck expects a groundswell response from the consumer public and has already gathered nearly 1,000 signatures. “We need everyone’s hands on the rope to pull this off,” he said. “We hope to garner 20,000 or more signatures when we deliver the petition to the vehicle manufacturers. It will take a lot of coordination to do this.”
While the ethanol industry has been especially supportive of the petition, Schwarck said the entire ag community needs be concerned about FFV production. “Every corn grower has a lot at stake here, whether they use ethanol or not; a lot of their corn is ground to make the product,” he said. “In addition, if you are a livestock or poultry producer, I’m sure you want a reliable, dependable supply of distillers grains available to you. The time has come when we must do some of the heavy lifting ourselves and cannot look to Washington or anyone else to do it for us.”
Pleading with automakers to stay the course on FFV manufacturing, the petition states: “We are consumers of your vehicles and we request that you manufacture cars and trucks of all models, engines and trim levels that will allow the use of higher ethanol blends such as E15, E20, E30 and E85. This would make our purchasing experience more enjoyable and less cumbersome than it is today. Many of us can simply not find the vehicles we wish to purchase. In addition, this would be beneficial to your sales presentation to offer environmentally friendly vehicles that burn clean, high-octane American made fuel, while supporting rural America and U.S. agriculture. We wish to support and promote the automakers that choose to produce quality cars and trucks that run on higher ethanol blends.”
The petition can be found here.