October 17, 2005

Why is the US still so dependent on gasoline?

In Brazil, drivers can pay $4 a gallon for gas -- or they can plunk down half that for homegrown fuel. And the most popular new cars accept either one.

Flex-fuel cars are all the rage in Brazil where they have captured the new car market since they were introduced in March 2003.

Because of decades developing alternative fuel, Brazil, a country larger than the continental United States with a population of 186-million, boasts an infrastructure of 29,000 gas stations that offer everything from 25 percent ethanol-blended gasoline, known as "gasohol," to straight alcool (pronounced alko-oll).

This means huge savings for Brazilian consumers. Alcohol costs on average about half of gasoline, selling for barely $2 a gallon. Car buyers also receive an annual tax credit on alcohol cars, which have cleaner tailpipe emissions.

Brazil is now almost impervious to the instability of gasoline supplies that has bedeviled the United States in the aftermath of two massive hurricanes and the war in Iraq.

Gas pump prices seem stuck around $3 a gallon, but most U.S. drivers have little choice beyond regular, unleaded or premium.

"There is a lot we can learn from Brazil. They are doing great things," said Gal Luft, an alternative energy advocate at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a think-tank in Washington, D.C.

You can read the complete story here:
Ethanol: Is it the answer?

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