ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - E85 is a fuel blend made up mostly of corn, and it is made right here in America. But it has yet to gain popularity in the Tampa Bay area.
Bollinger's Auto Service in St. Petersburg offers what may be one of the only pumps in Tampa Bay dispensing the alternative fuel known as e85.
It is American made, a fuel blend of 85 percent Ethanol made from corn and 15 percent gasoline. It is compatible with many newer American-made vehicles. Ted Bollinger is proud to carry it.
Steve Reich with USF's Center for Urban Transportation Research points out e85 produces less greenhouse emissions, and unlike petroleum, it is a renewable fuel.
E85 is attractive from both an economic and patriotic perspective, until you consider the fact it can decrease gas mileage. We are talking double digit decreases.
Terry Shell's truck takes e85, also known as flex fuel, but he's not buying it based on the mileage loss. Experts estimate the loss per gallon at 20 to 30 percent, depending on the car.
The cost versus mileage ratio may be stifling demand. Until drivers are willing to make the switch, it is unlikely many gas stations will pay to convert any of their pumps and underground tanks to e85 their islands.