President Bush wants it. Congress passed a law calling for more of it. Automakers are promoting it.
Now drivers need a place to get it.
Of the nation's 168,987 gasoline stations, only 608 offer ethanol pumps for flexible-fuel vehicles.
But momentum is building for E85 -- the blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline -- as a way to reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil and a way to reduce tailpipe emissions.
E85-capable flexible-fuel vehicles, or FFVs, that run on either gasoline or an ethanol mix have been available since the mid-1990s. Automakers already have produced about 5 million FFVs in the United States. But because there are so few E85 pumps, not many vehicles actually run on the home-grown fuel.
Opinions differ over how fast the ethanol infrastructure can expand.
The number of filling stations selling E85 will increase slowly, and most will be in the Midwest, says John Hartmann, a petroleum equipment consultant in McHenry, Ill. Hartmann says he believes E85 eventually will become a mainstream fuel.
"It takes 15 years for one fuel to take the place of another fuel. That was the case with unleaded (gasoline)," he says.
This month, both General Motors and Ford Motor Co. launched initiatives that will increase the number of E85 pumps in the Midwest.
Ford will help fund the installation of E85 pumps in Illinois and Missouri, and GM will try to raise consumer awareness of E85 through marketing and advertising.
"If you look right now, there's a lot of talk about flexible-fuel vehicles. You are seeing ads for them on TV," says Al Mannato, fuel issues manager for the American Petroleum Institute. "Well, the reality is, there are millions of these vehicles out there, but there is no demand for this product."