* GM spends $100 million a year on flex-fuel vehicles
* GM says the U.S. needs 12,000 ethanol fueling stations
(Corrects spelling of GM executive's name to "Stephens" on
every reference, corrects gallon-to-liter conversion rate)
By Bernie Woodall
KISSIMMEE, Fla., Feb 16 General Motors Co's
GM.UL growing output of vehicles capable of running on
ethanol-gasoline blends won't help cut polluting emissions or
U.S. dependence on foreign oil until a slim network of stations
dispensing ethanol is greatly expanded, GM Vice Chairman Tom
Half of GM's vehicle lineup will be able to run on a mix of
15 percent gasoline and 85 percent ethanol, called E85, by the
2012 model year, said Stephens, GM's vice chairman for global
"GM is spending about $100 million a year adding flex-fuel
capability to our vehicles. We can't afford to leave this
capital stranded," Stephens said in a speech on Tuesday at the
Renewable Fuels Association conference.
A copy of the speech was provided to reporters on Monday.
Adding the capability to run on E85 costs adds as much as
$70 to the production cost of each vehicle, Stephens said.
GM has produced 4 million of the 7.5 million flex-fuel
vehicles on U.S. roads now, said Coleman Jones, GM biofuel
Stephens said GM has worked with the National Governor's
Association and ethanol producers and dispensers to add 350
more ethanol-blend pumps in the United States. He said GM would
welcome federal government assistance to finance expansion of
that network, but he offered no specifics on how that would
"Today there's 2,200 (ethanol fuel stations) that are out
there but that's not enough," said Stephens.
"Two-thirds of the pumps are concentrated in 10 states and
those 10 states have only about 19 percent of the flex-fuel
vehicles that we have on the road," said Stephens. "That's a
big problem for us."
Those 10 states are all in the Midwest, heart of corn
production in the United States. Corn is the dominant source of
Stephens said there are about 160,000 U.S. gasoline
stations, and there need to be 12,000 or more ethanol stations
"to have ethanol fuel available for every one of our customers
within about 2 miles of where they live. So, we've got some
work to do there to get the additional 10,000 pumps in."
Ethanol-gasoline blends emit less polluting carbon dioxide
than conventional gasoline and are mainly produced
Energy legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in 2007 set
binding targets for fuel blending each year. Ethanol use is to
rise to about 20.5 billion gallons by 2015 and 35 billion
gallons by 2022 from 4 billion gallons in 2006 and almost 13
billion gallons in 2009.
One gallon of liquid equals 3.7854 liters.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said that
ethanol-gasoline blends must increase the ethanol portion to
much higher than the current limit of 10 percent and increase
use of other sources of ethanol than corn, such as switchgrass
and landfill and farm waste.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Hans Peters)