The lightbearers of Fog City

In an Automobile magazine (October ’14) multi-page article about driving the BMW i3 through Silicon Valley, tucked into a sidebar, I found a little chart: “2013 Vehicle Sales by Fuel Type, San Francisco vs. U.S.” This oughta be good, I thought, and noted that ordinary, garden-variety gasoline-engined cars made up 76.41 percent of the total American market. In San Francisco? 76.88. How unspeakably, improbably … normal.

How is this even possible? SF buys three times as many hybrids (11.39 vs 3.66 percent), four times as many CNG cars (0.04 vs 0.01, no big deal) and nine times as many pure electrics (3.16 vs 0.37). Diesels are about even: 2.69 in SF, 2.98 for the nation as a whole. What they refuse to buy in the City by the Bay, apparently, is so-called “flex-fuel,” gasoline-powered cars that can run on up to 85 percent ethanol: only 5.83 percent of SF buyers opted for flex-fuel in ’13, versus 16.57 percent nationwide. I surmise that on this issue, if perhaps on no other, San Franciscans agree with me: the proper place for ethanol is not your fuel tank, but your shot glass.


  1. Charles Pergiel »

    22 September 2014 · 9:41 am

    Could it be a Midwest versus West Coast kind of thing? We don’t grow a lot of corn out here.

  2. McGehee »

    22 September 2014 · 10:22 am

    For me the advantage of the FlexFuel option was two extra cylinders, and (on normal gasoline) a significantly higher HP.

    Presumably because on E85 the four-cylinder motor (assuming it were FlexFuel-compatible) would have needed outside help.

  3. CGHill »

    22 September 2014 · 1:13 pm

    I’d consider it for my own ride, if only to ward off against further encroachment by the Renewable Fuels cartel: they won’t be able to hurt me with E15 or E20 if the machine can deal with E85.

RSS feed for comments on this post