Upfront: Tackling ethanol education

By Steve Noe

Let’s face it: With the energy independence movement in the United States; increased production of cars, trucks and other off-road vehicles designed to handle ethanol-blended fuel greater than 10 percent, such as E15, E30 and E85; and more gas stations now offering said fuel, the ethanol issue is here to stay.

As you know, the drivers of those off-road vehicles — built to handle those higher-ethanol-blended fuels — will likely go to the gas station and use the same pump to fuel both their vehicles and gas cans. Then, they will drive home and eventually pour that fuel into their outdoor power equipment — without using a fuel additive to offset the harmful effects of that increased ethanol content. As a result, they will most likely damage the engine, which isn’t designed to handle ethanol-blended fuel greater than 10 percent, and put their own safety at risk. And, if they recently purchased that piece of outdoor power equipment from you — and you neglected to warn them at the time of the purchase not to use higher-ethanol-blended fuel in their equipment without some type of ethanol fuel protection — you may have a big problem on your hands.

That’s why we decided to devote the majority of this issue of OPE toward helping you with your ethanol education efforts.

For starters, Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), provides you with an update and valuable information on OPEI’s ‘Look Before You Pump’ national ethanol education and consumer protection campaign (see story on pages 14-15). Launched at the 2013 Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO), the campaign cautions consumers that it is harmful and illegal to use higher than 10-percent ethanol gas in any outdoor power equipment.

“Although there is continued uncertainty in the renewable fuels market, one thing for certain is that the way consumers select and use fuel will be changing in the coming years,” Kiser said at the time of the campaign’s launch in October 2013. “It is incumbent upon our industry to be proactive. We are cautioning American consumers and business owners whose livelihood depends on our equipment to be more mindful at the gas pump. Don’t assume that the gas you put in your car can still go in your mower, chain saw or generator.”

Jeff Sheets, founder and owner of OPE Consulting Services, offers his unique perspective on the ethanol issue from a customer service standpoint, calling on dealers to embrace what he calls the “Ethanol Customer Service Challenge” (see story on pages 16-18).

And for those seeking information on the latest ethanol-fuel-related products, be sure to check out the “Equipment Focus” on fuel additives, oils and lubricants, starting on page 36.

For more information on ethanol education, including free, downloadable ‘Look Before You Pump’ campaign materials, go to www.opei.org or www.LookBeforeYouPump.com. For the latest ethanol-related news and product information, visit www.outdoorpowerequipment.com.

OPE Editor Steve Noe


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