Converting the nation’s vehicle fleet to run on 85% ethanol (Flex-Fuel) may have gotten a whole lot easier.
AAMCO, one of the world’s largest chains of automotive service centers, has started an initiative designed to promote environmental sustainability and energy efficiency across the nation.
The Eco-Green Auto Service initiative will certify automotive centers that meet a stringent set of criteria while adding services that cut emissions, improve mileage, and reduce hazardous waste associated with owning a vehicle.
AAMCO is also promoting alternative fuels by installing E85 conversion kits that allow vehicles to run on ethanol blends up to 85%. Their service centers will use kits provided by Flex Fuel US ®, called the FLEX-BOX SMART KIT™, which is the only ethanol conversion kit fleet-certified by the EPA.
The FLEX-BOX is an aftermarket bolt-on kit that continuously monitors the engine’s emissions and delivers supplementary fuel injection as needed, since blending high levels of ethanol into gasoline will make the engine run lean.
As I mentioned yesterday, auto manufacturers tend to make a big fuss out of vehicle conversions like this one. General Motors has done so with their plan to convert half their fleet to run on 85% ethanol by 2012, and there really isn’t an incentive for them to convert older vehicles. I haven’t found out how much these conversions cost yet, but AAMCO’s website indicates that up to 85% (coincidence) of the conversion price can be offset by state tax credits.
Only one problem though: all the ethanol in the US is currently made from food. If you feel like filling your gas tank with corn, the price of a gallon of E85 is only $2.67, although that works out to about the same price as gas when you factor in the lower energy content of ethanol. Converting the nation’s automobile fleet to E85 doesn’t seem to make sense until cellulosic ethanol facilities go online.
AAMCO’s Eco-Green auto service has other important attributes besides ethanol conversions though. They’ll be attempting to create a “closed-loop environment” to recycle materials and eliminate waste streams, such as recycling waste transmission fluid into fuel to power heaters or air conditioners. AAMCO will also be using water-based cleaners to avoid hazardous solvents and will be using biodegradable lubricants (like vegetable oil) in their hydraulic equipment.
“We are creating a closed-loop environment for our centers, where whatever comes in is reused, and whatever goes out has minimal or no environmental impact,” says Todd Leff, AAMCO’s CEO. “Our franchisees are converting their centers into the cleanest car care businesses on the planet. I’ve long believed the automotive aftermarket industry can do more to minimize its impact. Now AAMCO centers are out to make a difference.”
To find an environmental friendly auto-service center, click here.