WASHINGTON — Today, two well respected automotive and ethanol experts have come out against Jay Leno’s column “Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol” in Autoweek magazine. Bob Reynolds, the president of Downstream Alternatives and an expert in automotive engines and fuels, countered the column with “Missing Opportunities and Misrepresenting the Facts,” while Bobby Likis, an expert mechanic with more than 40 years in the automotive field and host of “Bobby Likis Car Clinic,” penned “Can’t We Just Get Rid of Ethanol Ignorance?”
Despite the Autoweek column, Leno, a well-known comedian and self-proclaimed “car guy,” has previously touted the benefits of ethanol and E85. He has stated that “Ethanol-enriched fuel … does have some obvious advantages in the high-performance arena. Not only does it address all of the important environmental issues (it produces less carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon tailpipe emissions than gasoline), E85 has a very high octane rating (100 to 105), allowing engine builders to run higher compression ratios–producing more horsepower.”
Leno also stated in the past that “although decreasing harmful emissions usually doesn’t directly affect performance, engine parts like pistons and valves tend to stay cleaner. Unlike gasoline, ethanol burns 100 percent, so it leaves behind no nasty residue.” Additionally, Leno discussed ethanol and combustion, finding that “Ethanol also combusts at a lower temperature than gasoline, which means the engine runs cooler.”
Likis addresses Leno’s recent flip-flop, noting, “…not too long ago at SEMA, Mr. Leno was touting E85 and other ethanol-blends of gasoline with his Z06 ‘Vette. Now, for whatever unknown reason, he’s slamming ethanol. I cannot believe ‘what Jay said’ is ‘what Jay really believes.’”
Reynolds and Likis both detail the intricacies of water absorption and the Hagerty Insurance study, which examines ethanol use in classic vehicles. Reynolds explained the study, noting, “In 2007 Hagerty Insurance (which insures many of our vintage cars) partnered with Kettering University’s Advanced Engine Research Lab and tested ethanol blends in vintage cars ranging in age from 1940s to 1970s model years. Hagerty Magazine summarized that ‘after 1500 hours of testing … fuel lines didn’t leak and fuel pumps did not fail’ and concluded that ‘with minor updates and proper maintenance E10 will not prevent the ability to enjoy your collector car.’”
Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, also commented on the Leno column, stating, “Will the real Jay Leno please stand up? The last time we heard from Leno on ethanol, he was touting the benefits of E85 and had proudly converted one of his own Corvettes into a flex-fuel vehicle so that it could use the highest-octane and most renewable motor fuel available on the market. The horsepower he got was absolutely remarkable. Unfortunately, it appears Leno has fallen victim to the relentless barrage of myths and misinformation about ethanol and classic cars coming from all of the usual suspects. If Leno wants the facts on ethanol and classic cars, we’ll happily provide him with RFA’s ‘Gasoline Ethanol Blends and the Classic Auto’ report, which outlines a study by Hagerty Insurance (whose advertisement, incidentally, is adjacent to Leno’s anti-ethanol rant in Autoweek) showing that ethanol can be safely used in older automobiles.”
Bob Reynolds’ “Missing Opportunities and Misrepresenting the Facts” can be found here.
Bobby Likis’ “Can’t we just get rid of ethanol ignorance?” can be found here.
RFA’s Gasoline Ethanol Blends and the Classic Auto” can be found here.