Photo Information

When Col. Richard P. Flatau Jr. checked in to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune as the new base commanding officer, Headquarters Marine Corps leased this 2008 E85 flex-fueled Ford Escape Hybrid to be tested at a Marine Corps installation. This hybrid vehicle was part a Pilot Program of 20 vehicles to reinforce the role of FFV/Hybrid development in minimizing the reliance on imported foreign fuel. Col. Flatau was eager to receive the vehicle and set the example with having a hybrid as his government transportation.

Photo by Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez

Base commander's Earth friendly ride

17 Apr 2009 | Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez

Americans use almost 20.1 million barrels of oil per day. With that in mind, our country is looking for alternate fuels to reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

 People around base might notice a slightly different looking vehicle with its “85” lettering on the sides.

 The vehicle is a 2008 E85 flex-fueled Ford Escape Hybrid belonging to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune commander, Col. Richard P. Flatau, Jr.

 “The vehicle is part of a Pilot Program of 20 vehicles to reinforce the role of FFV/Hybrid development in minimizing the reliance on imported foreign fuel,” said Pat McClellan, the deputy fleet manager with MCB. “The fuel system hardware was upgraded to handle the addition of E85 fuel.”

 Headquarters Marine Corps leased this vehicle to test at a Marine Corps installation. When Col. Flatau checked in as the new commanding officer for MCB in 2008, he asked about getting a hybrid vehicle.

 The Ford Escape Hybrid was first released in 2004. The vehicle seats five people, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates it gets an average of 34 miles per gallon in the city and 31 MPG on the highway.

 The E85 on the Escape hybrid means it can be fueled by Ethanol fuel.

 “Ethanol fuel is a renewable fuel made from plants,” according to the U.S. EPA Web site. “Ethanol is produced by fermenting plant sugars. It can be made from corn, sugar cane or other starchy agricultural products. Pure ethanol is rarely used for transportation instead there are several ethanol-gasoline blends in use today.”

 Most ethanol fuel in the U.S. is made from corn. E85 fuel is a blend of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent gasoline. The fuel cannot be used in a conventional, gasoline only engine.

 Although another common mix of fuel, E10, a blend of 10-percent ethanol and 90-percent gasoline, can be used in any gasoline vehicle manufactured after 1980 and is commonly available in many areas across the U.S.

 The E85 Escape Hybrid produces about 25 percent less carbon dioxide than a gasoline-fueled Escape Hybrid, and is considered the world’s cleanest and most fuel-efficient small sports utility vehicle, according to the Ford Motor Company Web site.

 “Flex-fuel vehicles can run on E85 fuel, gasoline or any blend of the two,” said Harold Taylor, program manager for fuel contracts aboard Camp Lejeune. “E85 fuel is very close in price to unleaded fuel and has a lot less negative impact on the earth’s atmosphere as a whole.”

 While attending the 2007 annual Installation Commanders Course, before taking command of MCB Camp Lejeune, Col. Flatau heard about a hybrid vehicle HQMC wanted to test on a Marine Corps installation. He already had a personal interest in hybrid vehicles and instantly wanted to know how he could get one once arriving at Lejeune.

 “I’d love to have a hybrid vehicle,” said Col. Flatau. “It’s a strategic vulnerability we have on petroleum, and as a Marine Corps officer I think our nation needs to reduce that dependency and vulnerability. It’s in the best interest of national security.”

 Col. Flatau also went on to say how as the CO, he is in a visible position, and the installation should be leading the way. He thought it was a great thing to do to lead in example with having a hybrid vehicle.

 “Today there are more than six million FFVs on the road,” according to the EPA Web site. “The vehicles are available in a range of models and are priced the same as gasoline-only vehicles.”

 Ethanol fuel is important because it is a renewable commodity our country can gain from, said Taylor. It is domestically produced, promotes energy independence, is biodegradable and does not contaminate water.

 For more information on FFVs and E85 fuel, visit the EPA Web site at