Electric Vehicles vs. the Ethanol Industry: The competition expected in 2024

This year is likely to see more competition between the ethanol industry and electric vehicles makers as sustainable energy becomes more accessible and the Biden Administrations pushes stringent regulations on vehicle emissions.

This year is likely to see more competition between the ethanol industry and electric vehicles makers as sustainable energy becomes more accessible.

Last year, under the Biden-Harris Administration’s purview, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed “the strongest-ever pollution standards for cars and trucks.” The goal of the Administration is to transform the auto industry over time — so that, by the year 2032, two-thirds of all new cars sold are EVs. However, the progressive regulations are receiving major push back from the auto and fuel industry as well as by consumers weary of embracing the change for a variety of reasons, including cost and access.

Other proposed regulations that effect agriculture and trade would apply more stringent standards for light- and medium duty trucks starting with 2027 models, as well as the “Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles - Phase 3,” which calls for major changes to the transportation industry in order to cull 1.8 billion tons of CO2 by the year 2055.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes farmers will look to expand ethanol markets in other ways.

“Farmers come up to me, and they say, ‘Ah, would you stop talking about electric vehicles,’” Secretary Vilsack said. "[The answer is] no, because we want to make sure that we continue to have manufacturing in this country. It’s not going to put you guys out of business. It’s not. We’re going to have cars that use ethanol for a long, long time.”

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper worries electric vehicles could suppress ethanol demand, but says they are not a universal solution.

“They, in most cases, [EVs] do not deliver the range that was advertised — that they have problems in extremely hot weather or extremely cold weather, that there are problems with finding places to charge these vehicles,” Cooper explained. “If you are truly interested, and if you are truly serious about reducing carbon emissions, and doing it at the lowest cost possible for consumers, and doing it in a way that doesn’t compromise or sacrifice vehicle range and convenience — this is what we’ve got to be looking at.”

For example, using a Ford Escape as a test case, RFA researchers were able to travel 440 miles in the gas-electric hybrid SUV with a full tank of E85 fuel and full charge. According to Cooper, that is nearly double the mileage capability of a comparable electric vehicle.

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