Ethanol Vehicles vs. EVs, a Long Road Ahead

Corn ethanol and the vehicles they power may face increasing competition from electric ones and the utilities that power them. But one key state’s experience shows how long that fight could take.

The same week California announced it will end the sale of new liquid-fueled vehicles in 2035, a heat wave forced a power emergency and a request that consumers reduce demand, including charging EVs. That underscored the corn ethanol industry’s argument that a wholesale switch to electric vehicles may be impractical, even in 13 years.

Renewable Fuels Association head Geoff Cooper says; “A 2035 hard deadline sitting here, 13 years away from that deadline. It’s hard for me to see how that is plausible.”

At the same time, more motorists are using more corn ethanol as the USDA ramps up millions in new help for biofuels and fueling stations.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, at a recent 100 million-dollar biofuels infrastructure announcement in Illinois; “You’re going to see over the course of the next 60 to 90 days some phenomenal announcements coming out of the Department of Agriculture.”

At that same event, Illinois Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth touted ethanol advances beyond animal feed. Duckworth; “They’re getting to the point now where they’re going to be able to make ethanol-based plastics that will be able to go into your clothing. And so, this is exciting for our farmers because it means that they’re going to have a dependable market for their products.”

As aviation biofuel is now being developed, that could provide another market for corn growers, especially if EVs eventually make a dent in the liquid-fueled car market.