More GM vehicles to have energy flexibility September 21, 2005 BY MICHAEL ELLIS FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER The new full-size sport-utility vehicles from General Motors Corp. get 100 miles per gallon of gas. Too good to be true? Yes. But do the math, and by filling up GM's trucks with E-85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gas, drivers can help the United States cut its total oil consumption, a top GM executive said on Tuesday. With gas prices hitting record highs above $3 a gallon this summer and consumers concerned about dependency on foreign oil, GM plans to advertise the benefits of its flex-fuel vehicles capable of burning ethanol or regular gasoline or a blend of the two, said Mark LaNeve, vice president of vice president of GM North America vehicle sales, service and marketing. GM will add a yellow fuel cap on all vehicles capable of running on E-85, reminding them of an alternative to regular gasoline. Already, there are about 1.5 million GM vehicles capable of running on E-85, made mostly from corn or other grains. Next year, GM will build about 400,000 flex-fuel vehicles when it launches its new full-size SUVs and Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck, LaNeve said. "A lot of people bought them and don't know they have the capability," LaNeve told reporters at a news conference on the new large SUVs. "There's a big education process here." Although ethanol is often used in small amounts as an additive in gas, E-85 is largely limited to the Midwest where the fuel is produced. Minnesota has about 170 stations selling E-85, and the fuel is also widely available in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and South Dakota, reports the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition. There are only four E-85 filling stations in Michigan, the coalition's Web site said. The four are: the Citgo at 8438 Telegraph Road in Dearborn Heights, the Citgo at 29009 Northwestern Highway in Southfield, the BP Amoco at 3841 S. Rochester Road in Rochester Hills and at Don's Windmill Truck Stop in Dimondale. But more could be on the way. On Tuesday, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced the creation of a free-tax zone in Marysville, near Port Huron, to support the construction of a new $95-million ethanol plant. Two other ethanol plants recently broke ground in Barry and Calhoun counties. GM is also considering running newspaper ads about ethanol and sending letters to owners of flex-fuel vehicles, telling them about their vehicle's capability and the location of the nearest E-85 filling stations, LaNeve said. "A lot of consumers are worried about fuel depletion, dependency, and a lot of people are worried about if there's ever going to be a shortage. There's always ethanol," LaNeve said.