WSJ | The Wheel World | Dieter Zetsche of Daimler and Robert Lutz of GM talk about how to reduce the thirst for gasoline -- and how not to | March 24, 2008
MR. BALL: What should government be doing that it's not doing?
MR. LUTZ: Well, to make the biggest environmental impact and displace as much petroleum as quickly as possible, and drastically reduce CO2 creation in the operation of motor vehicles, and create the least disruption to America's driving habits, there's only one technology that will get all of that quickly and at very low cost per car. And that is a conversion to basically bioethanol.
Better corn strains are being developed. They're developing corn with a shorter growing season, which was going to permit shifting the Corn Belt way to the north. I would point out that vast majority of corn acreage in the United States is still not producing corn. It's getting $500 a year per acre not to plant corn.
So I think that people who say, well, the ethanol industry is taking food from the mouths of babies and it's driving tortilla prices up -- I think these are highly suspect conclusions. General Motors is the world's largest producer of ethanol-capable vehicles. We produce over one million a year. We've got 4.5 million on the road and constantly growing. We've committed to doing 50% of our vehicles to be E-85 [85% ethanol and 15% gasoline] capable, and it's only about $150 per car. ...
And the $150 cost per vehicle is really trivial compared to the mild hybrid systems, heavy hybrid systems, plug-in hybrid systems, clean diesels and so forth that will be required to get to the 35 miles per gallon using conventional gasoline technology.
Photo: A demonstrator eats grass in front of a U.N. peacekeeping soldier during a protest against the high cost of living in Port-au-Prince
Telegraph.co.uk | Global warming rage lets global hunger grow
We drive, they starve. The mass diversion of the North American grain harvest into ethanol plants for fuel is reaching its political and moral limits.
"The reality is that people are dying already," said Jacques Diouf, of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). "Naturally people won't be sitting dying of starvation, they will react," he said.
The UN says it takes 232kg of corn to fill a 50-litre car tank with ethanol. That is enough to feed a child for a year. Last week, the UN predicted "massacres" unless the biofuel policy is halted....
Mr Diouf says world grain stocks have fallen to a quarter-century low of 5m tonnes, rations for eight to 12 weeks. America - the world's food superpower - will divert 18pc of its grain output for ethanol this year, chiefly to break dependency on oil imports. It has a 45pc biofuel target for corn by 2015.
Argentina, Canada, and Eastern Europe are joining the race.