National Biodiesel Board applauds automaker's expanded support for 20% biodiesel

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) welcomed DaimlerChrysler's decision to approve the use of B20, a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% regular diesel fuel, in its Dodge Ram pickup trucks for government, military and commercial fleet customers. Use of B20 in fleets is approved effective with the 2007 Model Year for Dodge Ram pickups equipped with Cummins diesel engines. DaimlerChrysler is the first U.S. automaker to specifically approve of B20 in a warranty position statement.

Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda touted the benefits of biodiesel during his remarks at the Economic Club of Detroit meeting.

"Biofuels represent a huge opportunity to reduce fuel consumption and our dependence on foreign oil, while also offering a significant environmental benefit," said LaSorda. "Biodiesel is proof that at least part of the solution to these national challenges can be homegrown."

Chrysler Group initiated a factory fill of B5 (5% biodiesel) fuel in the Jeep Liberty CRD diesel SUV starting with the 2005 model year. Every vehicle is fueled with B5 at the assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio. "Chrysler Group continues to blaze new trails in the industry by supporting the use of biodiesel in their various diesel vehicle programs," said Joe Jobe, CEO of NBB. "These are important steps in making clean, renewable biodiesel an appealing option for all diesel owners, and we anticipate that other OEMs will follow DaimlerChrysler's lead."

DaimlerChrysler is working with NBB and others to develop a consistent, universally applied American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) quality standard specifically for B20 that would allow them to recommend B20 to all owners of Dodge Ram diesels. In the meantime, DaimlerChrysler requires the use of biodiesel produced to the existing ASTM D 6751 specifications for B100 to be used in a blend. The blended B20 must also meet U.S. Military specifications, which include using the B20 within six months. NBB's close work with DaimlerChrysler and other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) was foundational to Chrysler Group's decision to support B20. Over the past several years, NBB and the diesel engine, fuel injection, and vehicle companies have engaged in extensive biodiesel research and testing programs to develop an informed, fact-based position on the use of up to a 20% biodiesel blend in diesel applications in the U.S. The results of this testing have been based on a stakeholder assessment of actual fleet experience with B20 in controlled validation tests. In addition, NBB, DaimlerChrysler and all the other major vehicle, engine and fuel injection companies are actively engaged in a research program testing B20 and lower blends of biodiesel in the advanced diesel engine platforms mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 2007 and 2010 model year vehicles. "The NBB's goal is for B20 to be approved in all major diesel engines and vehicles with the new 2007 and later model year engines, and we are making significant progress toward that goal," said NBB Technical Director Steve Howell. Howell noted that while the use of B20 may not void the warranty of U.S. engine manufacturers, this is the first time an OEM has specifically approved B20 use in a warranty statement.

Promoting increased use of biodiesel is a part of DaimlerChrysler's campaign to re-introduce diesel-powered passenger vehicles to U.S. consumers. Modern, clean diesel vehicles offer fuel economy improvements of 30% and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, compared with gas-powered vehicles. At the same time, diesel vehicles provide the power and performance valued by American consumers.

"While diesel technology alone can make big strides toward helping us meet our national energy, environment and security objectives, when you add biodiesel and other biofuels, it gets really exciting," Chrysler Group's LaSorda said.

Nationwide, more than 600 major fleets now use biodiesel commercially, and more than 600 retail filling stations also make it available to the public.

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