Saturday, May 07, 2005

Parade of Caravans, and thoughts about E85

Because my wife was out of town the past week, I got to drive her car: the Dodge Caravan. Most days I drop the five year old off at his school for kindergarten, and she picks him up. In the evening she gathers all three kids from daycare, so thats why she needs to drive the minivan.

Driving the Caravan is not altogether unpleasant, even though I had always dreaded getting a minivan. But after the third child arrived, resistance was futile: we needed the van the port around the kids and their stuff.

Pulling into the school parking lot is like being part of the Caravan parade. Every other vehicle is a Dodge Caravan, and every other Caravan is red (like ours). There is very little individuality in owning a Caravan, but plenty of practicality.

Yet my feelings of individuality took a mighty step forward a couple of weeks ago, when we realized that the Dodge Caravan is a flexible fuel vehicle, going back to at least 2000. This means that we can fuel the van with E85, a fuel that is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Minnesota is hot on E85, and a fueling station opened on the road to kindergarten.

Although there are 2 million flexible fuel vehicles on the road in the U.S., most people are not burning E85 fuel, because they simply don't know that the vehicle can use E85.Y ou may be already driving one and not even know it.

Jane and I have always been recyclers. We care about the environment and we've changed some of our routines to be a bit more green, but we're not hard core. The idea of owning energy efficient and alternative fuel cars has always been appealing, but we felt it would not be "practical."

Without even knowing it, we have been driving a car that could not only meet our families needs, but also help meet our need to feel as though we're making some small contribution to society by a) burning a fuel that is made in America by farmers, b) easier on the environment by emitting less pollutants, and c) helping to wean this country off of its dangerous dependence on middle east oil.

And here's the great news: E85 costs 50 cents a gallon less than regular unleaded, at least in our town. That saves us about $7 each time we fill up. This fuel makes loads of sense, folks!

I'm only on the third tankful of E85, but our Caravan doesn't seem to run any differently. There is a slightly degraded MPG, but this is more than offset by the lower price of E85 fuel.

So if you own a Caravan, or if you want to know if your car can burn E85 fuel, visit this site. Try a tankful and let me know what you think.

Diet Update: Still stuck at 189. Dang! Might actually have to resort to exercise.

1 comment:

American Lung Association of Minnesota said...

For more on E85, see this site from the American Lung Association of Minnesota: