Green Fleet

Albuquerque Police Abandon Use of E-85

January 15, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - The City of Albuquerque is abandoning part of its push for a greener Albuquerque after finding that E-85 powered vehicles are not all they are cracked up to be, according to the Web site, www.koat.com.

The city found they cost more to run and to keep running.

In October of 2005, the mayor was all smiles when he showed off his E-85-fueled truck. It was given to him by by General Motors, which was promoting ethanol-fueled vehicles.

Enchanted with the idea of going green, the city bought a couple hundred police cars. The problem is all the money the city is spending to keep those cars running green.

Albuquerque police Chief Ray Schultz said, "We are looking at a couple different things with the E-85. One is the cost. The fuel efficiency, and some problems with fuel pumps."

So now the police cars, which can run on regular gasoline or the more costly E-85, are back at the unleaded pump in an effort to save money on fuel and repairs.

As for fixing the breakdown-prone alternative fuel cars, Shultz said, "Fortunately, a lot of our vehicles come with extended warranties so there's no extra cost to the taxpayers, but it does result in a lot of down time so we have to move officers into other cars."

However, the experience hasn't soured the chief on looking for ways to keep the thin blue line heading in a green direction, such as variable displacement engines.

"The engine will change from eight cylinders to six to four cylinders depending on the type of driving used and we think we can get the same efficiency using those type of police cars," Schultz said.

The chief said he has looked at the use of biodiesel fuel in some of the department’s diesel-powered vehicles, if the manufacturers warranty will still stay in effect.

Currently, about 46 percent of the city's vehicles use alternative fuels including E-85. It is not clear if other departments are going back to gasoline because of the unexpected costs.

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