LA HABRA : 1st Fuel Pump for Ethanol Cars Debuts

The first fuel pump in the country for cars designed to run mostly on ethanol was unveiled Friday at a La Habra filling station.

“Our state continues to lead the nation in developing and testing new automotive fuels,” said Charles Imbrecht, chairman of the California Energy Commission. “The availability of E85 (an ethanol-gasoline mixture) at the retail pump is another milestone toward reducing California’s exclusive dependence on gasoline.”

Ethanol has been used as a fuel additive in this country for many decades, according to Alma Williams, executive director of the California Renewable Fuels Council. Produced from various crops, including corn and grain, it significantly reduces carbon monoxide and other pollutants when used as a gasoline additive.

The use of ethanol as an octane booster in gasoline has been increasing over the years, Williams said. Ironically, she said, it was the phasing out of lead in gas that increased ethanol’s use. As refiners searched for a replacement for highly toxic lead, they turned to ethanol.


A pair of specially outfitted Ford station wagons, owned by the California Renewable Fuels Council, will be the first cars to test and demonstrate E85, which is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline and sells for about 64 cents a gallon. The pump is at an Arco station at 601 W. Imperial Highway, but only cars with specially designed fuel systems can run on E85, and those cars are not yet available for purchase.

However, the Ford Motor Co. has plans to manufacture a line of “flexible fuel” vehicles by 1995, Williams said. General Motors also is testing cars to run on E85, she said.

“Henry Ford had a vision of providing low cost, quality cars to Americans, fueled by American farmers growing crops,” Williams said. “If Henry Ford could see today the consequences of 70 years of burning fossil fuels, he’d probably say Ford really did have a better idea and it’s finally come around.”