Renewable fuels at the Senate

FORD VP CALLS FOR INTEGRATED PUSH TOWARD RENEWABLE FUELS BEFORE SENATE COMMITTEE

Sue Cischke, Ford vice president of environmental and safety engineering, testified before a U.S. Senate committee.

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2006 – Calling on lawmakers to “act with urgency,” a Ford executive today told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that policies are needed to support an aggressive, integrated approach by industry and government stakeholders to develop renewable fuels and advanced technology vehicles to overcome the nations future energy needs.

“It is clear the solution to America s energy challenges will need to come from advances in fuels and vehicle technology. The fact is, without the whole-hearted involvement of the oil industry, we cannot move forward far enough and fast enough,” said Sue Cischke, Ford vice president of environmental and safety engineering. “We obviously need key partners like the oil industry to invest in developing and marketing renewable fuels, like E85.”

Ford is committed to a portfolio of advanced technology vehicles to meet the various needs of consumers, including hybrids, flexible fuel vehicles, advanced clean diesels, hydrogen-powered internal combustion engines and fuel cells.

The company has led American automakers in developing advanced technology vehicles, building the first American full gas-electric hybrid and the first hybrid SUV in the world. At the Washington Auto Show in January, Ford unveiled the first-ever hybrid-ethanol demonstration vehicle, a Ford Escape Hybrid E85, marrying the two most-promising technologies on the market today.

Pointing out that Ford alone has put more than 1.6 million ethanol-capable, or flex-fuel, vehicles on the road in the last decade, Cischke emphasized the need for rapid production of renewable fuels, and the infrastructure to support them.

Only 600 of the 170,000 retail gas stations in the country carry E85 ethanol, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Cischke said expanding the availability of E85 will be critical to moving America toward energy independence.

“For ethanol to be a real player in the transportation sector and lessen Americas dependence on foreign oil, we need a strong, long-term focus on policies that increase U.S. ethanol production and accelerate E85 infrastructure development,” she said. “We need national research efforts to pursue producing ethanol from more energy efficient cellulosic materials like rice straw, corn stover, switch grass, wood chips or forest residue.”

Cischke also reiterated Fords commitment to produce 250,000 hybrids by 2010, including offering hybrids on half of all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.

Advocating an integrated approach between government and industry stakeholders, Cischke called for an expanded role for federal and state government, including tax credit’s for research and development and tax incentives for consumers and businesses to utilize renewable fuels.

“We fully support government incentives to encourage and accelerate this investment,” she said.

“The challenges are considerable but not insurmountable, and there is an enormous amount we can achieve if we act together in an integrated manner.”

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.

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