Sorry, I hope my post didn't come across as attacking you, it was not my intention. Ethanol blend is NOT the answer to our long term fuel solution. Its a poor band aid fix. Instead of pissing away money on ethanol, we need to explore ways to make internal combustion vehicles more efficient and maintain necessary power levels (trucking, towing, etc) and alternative fuels that make necessary power.
I really think we have the technologies in existence we are just too afraid to use them. We live in a world where people get the heebie jeebies about things they don't understand and refuse to do any research. Case and point is the old lady in the checkout line who pays with cash because she 'doesn't trust computers', but the cash came out of her bank account through a computer! (Or worse, she writes a check, processed through the same bank systems that would process a debit card). There is a much greater risk of her being mugged and losing cash than of some sort of computer glitch causing her to be double charged and having to go a couple days before those funds are replenished in her account..
Look at diesel. It is, by definition, more thermally efficient than gasoline. Yet we don't seem to want to adopt that over-100-year-old technology because people aren't used to it. 60mpg diesel cars are all over other markets (europe), cheap, reliable, and without all of the complicated stuff that goes into other 60mpg cars (hybrids). It cracks me up that people won't even consider a diesel because they are concerned about maintenance and repair costs, but they will readily buy a gas electric hybrid complete with batteries, invertors, electric motors, etc. It's true that repairs cost more on a diesel, but it's also true that they happen with much less frequency!
If we can get 60 miles per gallon out of a hybrid running a small and inefficient gas engine, I imagine 75+ miles per gallon could be done by replacing that hybrid with a diesel engine. 40mpg is common with diesel cars, with 60 not being unheard of. Why can't we have those here? I know the typical market says a gas powered automatic, but I'd love a diesel with a 6 speed. Volkswagen makes them, yes, but I imagine the technology could be much better if the market was using the better of the two technologies in more than just a handful of cars.
Guess what Ford just released? A brand new Ford "EcoNetic" Diesel Focus. It's available only in the european market, and it gets SIXTY-SEVEN miles per gallon. That's better than any hybrid, but you do without the expensive maintenance of a hybrid. I'd venture to say that there are quite a few good local shops that can work on a small diesel, I don't think the same could be said for a hybrid outside it's gas engine. And again, you could take the good with the bad if you could combine the technologies. If a gasoline hybrid gets 10mpg better than it's straight-gas counterparts (in the example of cars where hybrid is an option). Imagine what a hybrid version of a 67mpg car would get...
Anyway, I'm with ya man, if we want to cut back our dependency on oil the solution is not the oil, it's what we burn. Ethanol and refining processes seems to me like giving blood to a gunshot victim, and then continuing to give more blood, only now mixing it with more platelets or red blood cells or whatever to make the blood cheaper, but still pumping in more and more blood, even though you have the tools and skills ALREADY THERE to close the wound up.
Edit: I remember a while back someone said the reason we don't have diesel hybrids is the start/stop. Well, I was doing some more reading on this new diesel focus, it shuts itself down at a stop and restarts when you hit the gas using the starter to nudge you forward! (kind of like how a golf cart works). So evidently, there is no reason why a diesel can't be restarted as quickly as a gas engine. (The reasoning was, the high compression of a diesel would make restarts inefficient due to more energy needed to start it). This is not a hybrid, but it does share some of the same technologies. For example, it uses regenerative braking to take the load off of the alternator (power the lights, stereo, etc.) reducing even the tiny bit of extra fuel needed to operate the 12 volt system! It's 103 horsepower and runs about $25k converted to USD. (That's alot for a compact car, but if you're a commuter I imagine you'd make that back quick)
If they could be imported into the US (and they can't, due to not having been certified by the EPA, even though I cannot imagine how a 67mpg diesel wouldn't pass when 7mpg diesels transport all of the goods we use), I would seriously consider one. There can't be any motivation to have two product lines. Surely it would be cheaper for Ford to be selling the focus with the 1.9L turbodiesel (which, btw, IS standard, though the 'eco' one with all of the fuel saving features is extra) to everyone, rather than the 1.9TDI there and the 2.2(?) gas engine here. I can only draw the conclusion that they have determined that this market won't buy the diesel version, and that market won't buy the gas version. I think they got the better end of that deal!