// Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?
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  1. #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.

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  3. #2

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    Your the only one other than myself that have experienced the 15% hit. In my FEH, I thought it was because of the Atkinson 5 cycle and the O2 sensors causing a rich mixture.

    Most of the time I get good 87 octane here in So FL, but that ethanol screws up the mileage for a while. Adding just a little takes a few tanks to clear up the problems it causes.

  4. #3

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    I put out some warnings about ethanol last September. My FEH dropped from over 30MPG to about 25MPG on the highway. That was on the low percentage of ethonol, not the 85% stuff. The cost of the ethonol mix was lower than regular unleaded in the north central states but it did not make up for the loss in milage.

  5. #4

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    It's probably the oxygen sensor. Usually, E10 (10% ethanol) should not cause a nticeable drop in mpg. E85 (85% ethanol) should expect about 15% lower mileage because the specific energy is lower than regular gas.

    By the way, even a regular car is only about 10-15% efficient. Anyway, ethanol can be grown here. It's still better than depending on an unstabel middle east for our oil.

    THey REALLY need to make some flexible fuel hybrids (those that can run on any cobination of gas or upto 85% ethanol). And we also need to get some more E85 stations in New Jersey!

  6. #5

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    Well, I don't have a hybrid. I don't even have an asian car. I just happened to find this whilst googling around for information on E10. And this gives me reason for great concern.

    I noticed that the BTU of ethanol is lower than that of other mixes. This is marketed as being "good" for your car because it means it is burning cooler. However, is that really a "good" thing? It seems to me that our engines are getting less power our of the same amount of fuel. That means when I put E10 in my Mercedes I will be getting less hp/torque.

    You guys may be into saving the environment / your gasoline bill, but I paid a premium for my sport sedan for a reason- to drive the hell out of it! If E10 causes me to lose a drag race to some punk kid in a rustang or a civic with a fartcan (well, it would take a lot more than a fartcan to eat my car) I am going to be very, very, very unhappy.

    Is this just my problem because, despite being very well-proportioned, I have a small penis complex and boost my ego by throwing money at performance and luxury cars (and aftermarket mods) so that I can make poorer people feel insignificant? Does this power loss only serve to reduce my massively inflated ego?

    No, this is everyone's problem. Ethanol is NOT the solution.

    Refuse to use Ethanol-based fuel. There ARE mixes that dont use MtBE or Ethanol. Some states have outlawed the sale of MtBE gasoline but that doesn't mean you're stuck buying Ethanol. However, some states do not require that fuel be labeled at the pump as being E10! Do the research for your area and know what you're buying!

    (and remember, my friends in the *domestic* oil industry thank you for your continued patronage!)

  7. #6

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

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  8. #7

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    Ethanol can't be all bad for performance. Don't professional drag racers use ethanol/alcohol fuel?

  9. #8

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    Funny car racers use a lot of nitromethane and a little bit of ethanol. But they don't use hybrid drive trains.

  10. #9

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    Alcohol is great for drag cars because 100% Methanol/Ethanol has a much higher octane rating than standard gasoline. This means you can increase compression ratios to insane levels (= more HP) and not get knocking. But on a car factory-tuned for 87 Gasoline, the pop that E10 gives only hurts power and economy.

  11. #10

    Ethanol and Hybrids -- worse MPG?

    That's funny, because I notice a boost in my efficiency (just a couple MPG) after the switch to summer (ethanol-containing) gas - this is the second year in a row.

    There's a good article in the August issue of Discover magazine called "Life After Oil." It talks about ethanol, including the amount of gasoline it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and fermet corn.

    Regardless, 10 percent less terror-producing fossil fuels make me feel good. Bring on the plug-in flex-fuel hybrids, and I'm first in line to buy one.

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