CINCINNATI — Kroger Co. here has opened flexible fuel pumps in partnership with VeraSun Energy Corp., Brookings, S.D., in 20 Kroger convenience stores in and around Dallas and Houston.
VeraSun's branded E-85 fuel, called VE85, is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline for flexible-fuel vehicles. With the addition of the Texas locations, reported by VeraSun late last month, VE85 is now available at 44 Kroger fueling locations in Ohio, Texas, Kentucky and Michigan. Last week, a Kroger store in Sachse, Texas, was offering VE85 for $2.71 per gallon and regular unleaded for $3.01.
“Kroger has a nice footprint of fueling locations, which allows us to get E-85 into the marketplace in high quantities,” Bill Honnef, VeraSun senior vice president, strategic initiatives, told SN. “What we find is that convenience is extremely important to consumers of alternative fuel. They want a lot of locations in their area. Partnering with a fuel provider like Kroger makes practical sense.”
VeraSun will provide Kroger with point-of-purchase marketing material, including brightly branded pumps, pump talkers, posters, signs and brochures.
“E-85 needs educational marketing, unlike regular gasoline, so VeraSun takes on the responsibility to educate consumers with marketing materials. We also educate attendants at our partner stations about the fuel,” Honnef said.
“We look forward to offering VE85 to our customers who have flexible fuel vehicles,” Roman Williams, Kroger's Southwest fuel merchandiser, stated in a release. “Our Kroger fuel centers have been leaders with new fuel products and services like E-85 and fuel rewards.” Kroger did not respond to SN's request for comment.
Texas has more registered flexible fuel vehicles than any other state, according to the Texas State Energy Conservation Office, Austin. The National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, Jefferson City, Mo., estimates that number to be more than 500,000 registered flexible fuel vehicles.
According to Kroger's website, using E-85 may reduce greenhouse gases and the nation's dependence on petroleum.
The Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill., reported that the use of 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol in the United States during 2007 resulted in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 million tons.
“We are also exploring additional opportunities to offer customers E-85 fuel throughout the U.S. as consumer demand grows. We believe that demand will grow as alternative fuel becomes more conveniently available,” Kroger's website said.