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04-19-2006 10:56 PM #1
Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?
Hi, this isn't quite hybrid related, except that most hybrid buyers expect better MPG, and there may be a problem on the horizon. Once again, I posted this on a private Honda forum, but this concerns all drivers... comments anyone?
Before I got my HCH, I had a 1996 (normal) Civic. I had it for over
10 years. I knew EXACTLY how many miles I could get out of a tank of
gas. And I noticed something very strange. When I went to the few gas
stations in the area that had signs saying they use Ehtanol in the
gas, the gas mileage was horrible. The needle would drop to "E" a lot
faster than before -- perhaps about 15% less miles per tank. I
thought it was my imagination, but no matter what I did or what
factors (air-con, different driving conditions) it remained the same.
And it didn't matter of the "quality" of the gas either... 2 of the 3
ethanol stations were name brand gas (ie, Shell and 76), the other
was an independent. When using non-ehtanol-added gas the mileage
would go back to normal. When using the ethanol-added gas it would
cut about 15% off the MPG. ALWAYS.
So I swore off those stations that added ethanol (or at least put
notices up about it). One could think I was just imaginging it, then
I saw an article in this past Sunday's LA Times that said just that --
that gas with ethanol gets worse gas mileage. So I WASN'T imagining
Of course most stations are now switching over to ehtanol. This
doesn't bode well for people who are interested in getting good MPG.
I won't even go into the politics of ethanol (about how it takes more
energy to produce than it saves, and it's obvious pandering to the
states where the early political caucases are held). I wouldn't have
bought a hybrid if I didn't believe in helping the environment, but
from where I stand, ethanol is a bad mix. You get less MPG with it
added to gas, so you burn more gallons every tank anyway.
But here's what's weird: according to all reports I've read, Calif
switched over from MTBE to ehtanol in 2004 (whereas the rest of the
country is doing it now). Yet how come only some stations put ethanol
stickers up, and it was only those stations where I suffered poor
mileage? Unless there's another additive out there (besides ehtanol
and MTBE that some of the other refineries are using?) For now, I go
to Valero (they don't have many consumer stations, but are one of the
largest refineries in California), where I continued to get top
(normal) MPG from my old Civic before I sold it. Occasionally I will
to go Mobil or Chevron if the prices aren't too high, but I will not
go to the local Shell station (ethanol) or 76 (ethanol) where MPG
went down the drain.
Two last comments: I have no idea how bad the mileage variance will
be on hybrids. This was on my old Civic. Since buying the new 06 HCH,
I've gone almost solely to Valero (a couple times at Mobil and once
to Chevron).. I'm almost curious to see how the MPG drops if I go to
the local ehtanol Shell, except I don't want to waste my money. I
just have a feeling though, that people's MPGs all across the country
will only be getting worse.
It's a shame about MBTE: it really cleaned up the air in So Calif,
and delivered great MPG, but was found leaking into the ground water,
and can cause cancer. There's got to be something else out there.