Friday, September 13, 2013

Fuel Competition Within a Car is Far Better Than Competition Between Cars

As soon as possible, we need to break oil’s monopoly on transportation. The fastest, least expensive, most immediately effective way to strip petroleum of its strategic status is with flex fuel cars — by making the cars themselves a platform upon which fuels can compete.

Even though we have CNG cars (compressed natural gas) and electric cars and others, that is not good enough — fuels are still not really competing. Not many of us can afford to have four or five cars (each powered a different way) so we could choose on any given day how we will power our day’s commute. When people have few choices at the pump, the logical course of action is to buy a car that runs on the most available fuel, which is why most people are still buying petroleum-only cars.

When you arrive at the pump to fill your tank on any given day, if your car is capable of burning multiple fuels, those fuels are in immediate competition for your dollar. That kind of competition will drive fuel prices down. If your vehicle can only be powered by one fuel, those multiple fuels are not really competing with each other for your business. The car manufacturers are competing, but not the fuel.

In other words, the competition needs to happen within each vehicle (not between vehicles) or it’s not true fuel competition.

To bring about fuel competition as quickly as possible, we should all stop burning petroleum fuels and spend as much of our transportation money as we can on anything but oil. Right now, ethanol is the most available alternative, so we can start there. It might be easier than you think. Ethanol can be the thin edge of a big wedge with which we can open the fuel market. 

And we should pass the Open Fuel Standard to speed up the process of making this a flex fuel nation. It will change the world.

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