I emphasize versatility in survival planning, particularly in the area of alternate fuels. I have mentioned in several previous SurvivalBlog posts that prefer diesel-engine cars, trucks, tractors, and ATVs because they can be run alternatively on either biodiesel and home heating oil. For those of you readers in the Corn Belt, you might also consider buying a gasoline engine vehicles that is compatible with Ethanol. (Ethyl Alcohol or “corn gas.”). The most versatile (but rare) will run on 100% ethanol (E100). But many will run on a 85% ethanol/15% gasoline blend (E85).General Motors of Brazil makes large numbers of E100 vehicles, because E100 is the dominant fuel in that market. (Where it is produced locally from sugar cane.)
There are a wide range of current and recent production E85 ethanol compatible vehicles, from makers including
• Daimler Chrysler
• General Motors
Note that many of these are only available as special “fleet purchase” vehicles, so you may have to hunt for a fleet trade-in.
For some good background on E85, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E85.
Many U.S.gas stations already use E85 ethanol compatible pumps and tanks. See: http://www.pei.org/e85/.
Be sure to look closely at the vehicle specifications of a prospective purchase before you buy. (A buyer’s guide in PDF is available for download from the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.) In many cases you have to look at specifications right down to a particular digit in the VIN number to be sure. OBTW, some vehicles have a special sticker inside the gas cap door, indicating that they are E85 compatible. That is the quickest –but not surest–way to check when you a wandering around a car dealership lot. Since big four wheel drive vehicles are currently slow sellers, just putting the word out at a couple of local dealerships that you are looking for a used 4WD that is E85 compatible is almost certain to get some commission-only salesmen motivated to doing some legwork on your behalf.
The bottom line: If you can get get an E85 ethanol compatible vehicle for the same price or slightly more than one that is gasoline-only, then why not get that extra versatility? Some day, post TETOWAWKI, that versatility may make difference between a vehicle that is still viable/mobile and a very expensive immobile lawn ornament.
OBTW, distilling your own ethanol is not rocket science. (Just ask anyone who has lived in the Ozarks.) I will cover “at home” ethanol fuel distilling in an upcoming post.