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Old 11-26-2009, 11:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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EV World's Bill Moore drops the ball trading Honda Insight for 12 mpg E85 truck

I'm putting this in "Fossil Fuel Free" because the vehicle at the center of the story is being converted to 85% ethanol, and eventually electric power. Also, the owner is the editor/owner of EV World.

---

Has Bill Moore fumbled the ball?


Image source: EV WORLD CURRENTS: How We're Getting Off Oil

EV World has an article in which Moore lays out his justification for trading his 65 mpg 1st generation Honda Insight for a Chevy S-10 pickup in which he expects to get 12 MPG after modifying it to run on 85% ethanol (E85).

His main stated goal is to reduce oil use, particularly "foreign" oil. Certainly laudable. This is the primary reason given for the E85 conversion.

Moore attempts to demonstrate how the truck is marginally better than the hybrid by doing a math exercise, ultimatedly concluding that even though it's vastly less efficient, the truck squeaks out ahead of the 65 mpg hybrid in terms of absolute petroleum use:

Quote:
There are 5.6 times more ethanol in a gallon of E85 as there is gasoline (85/15 = 5.6). 12 mpg times 5.6 = 67.2 mpge
The problem is he forgets to account for the fossil fuel used in producing the ethanol. The energy input to create corn derived ethanol is a very high proportion of the energy derived from burning it (some argue it's even higher, meaning a net loss). This fact more than likely tilts the balance of lower petroleum use back towards his long-gone hybrid.

To be fair to Moore:

1) He states twice in the article that he "may someday" convert the S-10 to electric drive.

2) In defending himself in the comments, he says that he traded the Insight for a truck so he could haul stuff. (Why he didn't say so in the article itself is a head-scratcher.)

It looks like his readers aren't buying his petroleum reduction through E85 argument, judging by the negative sentiment in the comments at the bottom of the page.

Full article & comments: EV WORLD CURRENTS: How We're Getting Off Oil

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Old 11-26-2009, 12:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm converting a car to run on coal. It will get 1 mile per "gallon" of coal if you will. I did the math, and found that it is equivalent to 72 mpg of gas. Just barely more efficient than a honda insight.
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Old 11-26-2009, 12:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If I just HAD to have a pickup for whatever reason, I'd get a VW diesel pickup. I hear they get 45 mpg without modification. If it were me, I'd probably run it on WVO, but even on straight diesel it's a pretty efficient beast. They sell for about a grand around here, and surprisingly is not all that rare....
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It looks like he needed the truck. It's a shame he sold the Insight.

There is some disparity about ethanol production worse case it's done with a plant built in 1970 that gets the same energy efficiency as Gasoline plants .89:1 energy input to output. The state of the art ethanol plant gets 1.5:1 input to output. And Ethanol is not derived from foodstock like Straight Vegetable Oil. WVO is a different story.

Good luck with a VW Diesel pickup, they're all old and rusty by now.

Coal...that's got to be the worst comparison I've seen. At least getting a diesel truck is rational. I can't take your sarcasm seriously.

I think it's a hacked up "news" post, Metro. All the powder of opposing arguments including hearsay with his "limp as celery stalks" defense. He bought a V6 Compact truck. It doesn't burn E85, it doesn't run off electricity, it doesn't run off small children or squirrel running eternally in a caged motor. It burns gasoline. Although personally it might as well burn squirrels, at least his MPG would be better. I've never seen a V6 Compact truck get anything better than 20mpg.

If he thinks he's getting 12mpg he definitely setting his sights low.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My mechanic has that same truck. I have borrowed it a couple of times. with a cap and a full bed of tools I was able to manage 26 MPG, so it's not as bad as predicted.

Although I hope there is an EV conversion in this truck's future.

As for the VW P/U, I just got one for my EV conversion. I'll Start a new tread when I make some progress. first step: lots of rust repair and a rattle can paint job.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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OMG it's Palmear again

I wonder why he expects only 12 mpg. Is it going to get a 454 big block or what?

Now I looked at the link.

One faulty premise is that any ethanol mods are needed at all. My stuff loves E85 except when it gets really cold out. Simply lower the ratio of ethanol in the blend then to avoid trouble. And Omaha doesn't get as cold, for as long, as where I am so he should be able to enjoy the benefits of a strong ethanol blend for more of the year.

I have NOT seen 30% drops in fe, not even close, especially with my weaker blends which are still stronger than 50/50 E85/regular (which is E10 here).

Another faulty premise is this fixation on "foreign" oil. Oil is oil. Sure importing oil has many and numerous drawbacks... but burning up our native resource (finite resource I might add) I don't see as any sort of solution. We're not exactly swimming in the stuff either.

Yet another flaw is the assumption of E85 always being 85% ethanol. It can be as low as 70% ethanol. In cold regions, during cold season, the fuel will be on the low end of the ethanol strength scale.

There had to be about a million compact trucks he could have found with 4 cylinder 5-speed combos that would get 30 mpg with gas and/or E85... not to mention diesel/wvo/bio.

P.S. Which begs the question, if he isn't doing really big hauling, which it sounds like he isn't or he would have gone full-size, would an Insight be able to pull a modest trailer? For sure his Prius could.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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re: 12 mpg... He does state the truck will be used for short, around town trips. And he's estimating down due to the lower energy content of the e85.

If my mom can turn a 20 mpg (US) city rated Camry four cylinder into a 14.7 mpg fuel sucking pig in short haul sub/urban use, I'm sure Moore can do the same or worse on an e85 blend in his pickup rated for 16 mpg city.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allch Chcar View Post
Good luck with a VW Diesel pickup, they're all old and rusty by now.
Hmmm, I found this in about 2 minutes. I bet I could find one cheaper and in better shape if I spent more time.....

82 VW PICKUP
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post
re: 12 mpg... He does state the truck will be used for short, around town trips. And he's estimating down due to the lower energy content of the e85.
I pretty much only use my V8 F150 for hauling/towing and it averages 17- oftentimes on E85! If that dinky truck dips under, say, 22, they're doing something wrong.
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Old 12-20-2009, 02:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
I pretty much only use my V8 F150 for hauling/towing and it averages 17- oftentimes on E85! If that dinky truck dips under, say, 22, they're doing something wrong.
All V6 compact trucks get worse MPG than fullsize. Their aero is even worse and they're usually geared shorter due to their low power. But they come factory equipped with economy/tow cams . With modding and driver technique they could do better.

I tell people if they lose more than 30% mileage from E85 summer blend they have a problem and it's not the fuel. E85 is just a joke to many people anyway just for the drop in range per gallon. By mixing it with gasoline it's more poisonous then separated and it doesn't eliminate as much oil usage as it could. I really feel strongly that if they used an E95 mixture with some additives and the denaturant they'd really open up a better alternative fuel market. E95 can be run in Compressed Ignition and Spark Ignition vehicles designed for it, at least Scania can in their bus engines. 15MPG is the same fuel efficiency on Ethanol as 20MPG on Gasoline. But with all the blends it just gets crazy confusing for people . Here in Kentucky the mixture changes every season.

Ethanol engines can easily get the same or better mileage as Gasoline engines but they're not likely to become common place until variable compression engines or turbochargers become more production based. I almost think that until DIY's conversions to ethanol become mainstream we're not going to see any progress with the Ethanol industry or market. It doesn't help that most people still believe Ethanol is made from food crop, although I suppose calling it "animal food" would only be marginally better until people start realizing grass is better for cattle. Maybe if we can get PETA to run around yelling "you're giving them cancer!" that might help.

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