NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When Josh Tickell and his wife Rebecca Tickell bought a Prius in 2009, they took their commitment to energy efficiency one step further by installing a flex fuel kit, which is an external mini-computer that goes under the hood and allows the car to run on ethanol.<p“Now that our car is tuned we can fill it with alcohol-based fuel, which is cheaper than gasoline,” said the 34-year-old Rebecca.
"Tuned" or "hacked" is slang used by a growing number of Millennials to describe a car that has been flex fuel enabled.
"There are an estimated 2,000 millennials who have converted their cars," said Josh.
The filmmakers claim they are saving $400 to $500 a year by filling their Prius tank with ethanol rather standard gasoline.
“We still use gasoline, but it’s a blend so it’s fifty cents to a $1 cheaper than unleaded or super unleaded at gas stations,” said Rebecca.
There are an estimated 3,000 ethanol pumps across the country, and the Tickells have produced a documentary called PUMP to educate consumers on how they too can rig their car to pay less money for fuel.
“We hope to achieve a critical mass of people that demand the cars they drive and are about to drive are outfitted for fuel competition, which is the ability to run a car on multiple fuels,” said 39-year-old Josh.
PUMP depicts the hazardous consequences of the American oil monopoly and consumer's dependence on gasoline.
“Right now gasoline is our only option for transportation fuel and that dependence has drained our wallets, increased air pollution and sent our soldiers to fight in faraway lands to protect the flow of oil,” said Tickell. “PUMP shows viewers how making a variety of replacement fuels widely available to consumers will reduce fuel prices across the board.”
The current oil monopoly includes Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corporation, Conoco Phillips and Valero Energy.
“Breaking up the monopoly will require a major shift in consumer consumption to incentivize the oil and gas corporations and the government to move away from oil and drive prices for renewable energy down,” said Pran Tiku, author of The Emerging Markets Handbook (Harriman House, 2014). “This will not happen until Millennials hold more spending power.”
The Tickells aim to educate and prompt immediate action with how-to subtitles in a scene in which a driver installs the flex fuel kit.
“Millennials are the solution to America’s dependency on oil because they are leading the hacking trend,” said Josh. “They see no barriers to making alternative fuel a reality. They have been taught from a young age about the necessity of solar and wind power and the coming clean tech revolution.”
Josh became an alternative fuel activist after growing up in Louisiana near oil refineries and watching several family members fall ill with lupus and cancer.
“We called it Cancer Alley," he said. "I started researching whether there was an alternative source of energy Americans could use that didn’t make people sick and there is.”
PUMP is the fourth fuel film from the Tickells, and it is enjoying nationwide distribution in select cities.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet