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First Dealership-Owned E85 Station Opens in Texas

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Classic Chevrolet/Hummer Boosts Consumer Access to Ethanol, Biodiesel

Texans with flex-fuel vehicles gained easier access Friday to E85 ethanol at the first public biofuel pumps in the nation owned by a new car and truck dealership.

Classic Chevrolet/HUMMER, which sold more Chevrolet trucks than any dealer in the nation in 2007, spent more than $500,000 to install nine pumps dedicated to E85, E10 and biodiesel at the new Classic Clean Fuels station adjacent to its Mr. Good Wrench Quick Lube Plus and HUMMER dealership in suburban Dallas.

“We sell a lot of trucks capable of running on alternative fuels like E85, and even though there has been some increased availability, we saw a need for more E85 pumps where drivers could fill up,” said Charles Martin, general manager at Classic Chevrolet/HUMMER. “This was the right thing for us to do for our customers, and it's good for the Metroplex."

To celebrate the grand opening of the pumps, General Motors sponsored a two-hour promotion between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. during which flex-fuel customers could buy E85 for 85.9 cents a gallon instead of the regular E85 price of $2.74 a gallon.

With fewer than 1 percent of filling stations nationwide offering E85 fuel, the addition of Classic Clean Fuels could be the start of making alternative fuels available in alternative locations. CleanFUEL Distribution of Georgetown, Tex., provided a turnkey program to create the new station and supply the fuel. CleanFUEL also is converting the dealership’s onsite pump to E85, meaning all FlexFuel vehicles sold at Classic will start with a tank of E85.

“There’s no telling where this might lead,” said Larry Burns, GM vice president of Research & Development and Strategic Planning. “We have to keep looking for ways to improve the overall ownership experience of our customers.”

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which operates a rental branch within the Classic dealership, will dedicate a quarter of its fleet at the branch to GM FlexFuel models that will be filled at Classic Clean Fuels. It is the eighth FlexFuel Enterprise outlet in the country.

GM, the industry leader with more than 3 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road in the United States, has pledged to double flex-fuel production by 2010 and make half its portfolio E85-capable by 2012.

As part of that commitment, GM’s HUMMER Division revealed the 2009 E85-capable H2 SUT at Classic Hummer on Friday, one of more than 15 FlexFuel models GM will offer for the 2009 model year. The H2 also will be E85 capable for 2009.

“We’ll offer a biofuel powertrain in every model we build by the end of 2010,” HUMMER General Manager Martin Walsh said. “A Hummer’s off-road capability and care for the environment are in no way mutually exclusive. This is simply one more step in our effort to promote responsible adventure.”

E85, which consists of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, is a cleaner-burning, less-polluting and renewable alternative fuel principally made from corn today. Numerous cellulosic ethanol startups around the country are racing to commercialize ethanol made from non food-based sources.

A gallon of E85 has 20 to 25 percent less energy density than unleaded gasoline, but offers other advantages. For example, a well-to-wheel study by Argonne National Laboratory showed 23 to 29 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions from E85 fuel than from gasoline. E85 also has about 96 octane compared with 87 octane for regular unleaded. That can mean a performance boost in many vehicles.

“This signals that GM and our dealers are trying hard to give our customers choices,” said GM’s Burns. “Down the road, we may even want to consider hydrogen dispensers at dealerships.”

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First Dealership-Owned E85 Station Opens in Texas
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