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New Battleground For Toyota And General Motors: Ethanol

When the two largest automakers in the world announce major commitments to go green within minutes of each other, it is more than just a statement about the environment. Is about winning the battle for eco-friendly cars and trucks.

General Motors has bought a stake in Coskata , a suburban Chicago company that is developing cellulistic ethanol. This is ethanol refined from non-food sources like wood, rubber and some forms of trash. GM and Coskata believe the technology and ability to make this ethanol is close to happening.

Toyota also sees promise in cellulistic ethanol, but instead of buying into the business, it is developing this new ethanol on its own. The Japanese auto maker's efforts are centered around a reforestation facility it owns in Japan.

So who will win this battle? It is too early to say. Heck, we may not see cellulistic ethanol in widespread use for ten years. But the promise of the fuel is promising. Such ethanol made could make the fuel more available outside the Midwest, where it is in demand because it is the Corn Belt.

But one thing is clear. The auto maker's see the future of cars and trucks being fueled by sources other than gas and corn-based E-85.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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