As we've said in this column in the past, the best tech is that which enables you do more; not adds layers to what you already do with little return-on-investment. Now comes word of an application - or an update - to your dashboard GPS device (Tom-Tom or Garmin) we think is great. Call it the E85 finder.
The folks at the Renewable Fuels Association have put together updates for the Tom-Tom and Garmin GPS devices that can add E85 stations to these handy units. That way, if you're driving a flex-fuel vehicle (and you might be) you can easily navigate to a station and buy the higher-ethanol blend.
It's a great idea, and pretty smart from a consumer standpoint. These days when you drive down the road you see more of these dash-mounted devices "popping up." They already come preloaded with information to help you find a wide range of services - from restaurants to hair salons - and the idea of adding the E85 information makes sense.
For Tom-Tom you're downloading a national database, which you'll want to update quarterly since there are more E85 setups around the country. And the advent of the blender pump technology is going to do more to make this renewable fuel available.
For Garmin, you can pinpoint your download. Live in Iowa? Just add those stations. Traveling to Minnesota (where there are more than 800 E85 pumps), download that information. You can choose the destinations. Even with that pinpoint information, you'll probably want to check for quarterly updates too.
While it's great to find the nearest cheeseburger parlor, having information about where you can tank up on efficient, environmentally friendly E85 only makes sense. And you'll save fuel, because you'll know right where to drive. Not bad, not bad at all.
In full disclosure here, I do not have a GPS unit, but if you do, visit this page from RFA to learn more - E85 GPS Locator Info and happy driving.