Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler executives met recently with lawmakers in Washington to discuss proposed legislation to put more flexible-fuel vehicles on the road, according to MarketWatch
. Legislators want to make E85 more widely available by refunding gas stations up to 30 percent of the cost of installing pumps that dispense biofuels. The big three automakers are in support of the effort, with Ford planning to build 2 million flexible-fuel vehicles by the end of 2006 and General Motors planning to add more than 400,000 vehicles to its fleet that can run on ethanol. Critics say that flexible-fuel vehicles account for only 2 percent of registered vehicles currently on the road and running them on ethanol would hardly make a dent in gasoline consumption because they are estimated to run on alternative fuels just 1 percent of the time. According to MarketWatch
, oil industry representatives opposed to increased subsidies for ethanol producers contend that raising fuel economy standards for all vehicles would be a faster way to address oil consumption.