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Automakers do not see big US demand for flex-fuel vehicles

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Automakers do not see big US demand for flex-fuel vehicles

Highlights

US consumer demand for flex-fuel vehicles, which can run on high levelsof ethanol, is not strong enough for automakers to market them in thecountry, representatives of several major automakers said Thursday.

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"Somebody has to demonstrate some interest" in FFVs in the US beforeGeneral Motors will boost its offerings of those vehicles like it has inBrazil, said Coleman Jones, biofuel implementation manager with the company,at the Renewable Fuels Association's annual conference in Las Vegas.

Coleman also noted automakers need "confidence" that significant ethanolwill be available for the vehicles. He cited the drought last year thatforced ethanol plant shutdowns and production curtailments.

Volkswagen also is not seeing much US demand for vehicles that can takeup to 85% ethanol-gasoline blends. While in Sweden the company haddealers asking specifically for FFVs, "that's not the case right now in theUS," said Stuart Johnson, senior manager with Volkswagen Group of America.

As for Honda, if the company hears customers ask for more FFVs, it willoffer more but "we haven't heard that yet," said Ed Cohen, the company's vicepresident of government and industry relations. For now, FFVs are "not thehighest thing on our list," he said.

--Beth Evans, beth_evans@platts.com
--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard_rubin@platts.com