FORD LEADS WITH BIO-ETHANOL POWERED CARS FOR EUROPE
The Auto Channel
New Flexi-fuel Focus and Focus C-MAX for Sweden
Ford was the first manufacturer to market a low CO 2 bio-ethanol powered car in Europe in 2001
New generation 1.8-litre Ford Focus Flexi-Fuel model is launched in Sweden along with, for the first time, the Focus C-MAX Flexi-Fuel
These Flexi-Fuel cars demonstrate Ford's commitment to market environmentally friendly, yet highly affordable technologies
Close co-operation between Ford, the bio-fuel industry and the Swedish government makes sustainable mobility a realistic goal
SWEDEN/EUROPE – Ford has introduced its new generation Focus Flexi-Fuel, plus a Flexi-Fuel version of the Ford Focus C-MAX in Sweden this week, and remains the leading manufacturer of ethanol-powered vehicles in Europe.
Offering up to a 70 per cent reduction in overall CO 2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, the new Focus and Focus C-MAX Flexi-Fuel vehicles play a key role in Ford's broad portfolio approach and wide-ranging efforts towards sustainable mobility. The success of the previous model Focus Flexi-Fuel is also a prime example of what can be accomplished through co-operation and partnership between companies from different industries, local and national government and non-governmental organisations.
“There is a lot to be proud of with this vehicle, from demonstrating Ford's commitment to lead the industry in affordable bio-ethanol technologies to showing what can be achieved when government and business and private enterprise work together,” said Wolfgang Schneider, Vice President, Governmental and Environmental Affairs, Ford of Europe. “We consider these technologies to be of critical importance and that is why Ford will continue to explore and support other bio-ethanol initiatives across Europe .”
Providing the technology, establishing the infrastructure and incentives
Most important to establishing bio-ethanol as a successful pillar of sustainable mobility is the co-operation between government, manufacturers and the private sector.
Working closely with the Swedish Flexi-Fuel Buyers' Consortium, a conglomeration of public organisations, commercial enterprises and private individuals, Ford was the first manufacturer to offer bio-ethanol powered vehicles in a European market. Since its introduction in 2001, Ford has sold over 15,000 Focus Flexi-Fuels in Sweden . In 2003 and 2004, more than 80 per cent of environmentally friendly cars sold in Sweden were Focus Flexi-Fuels.
“It was this co-operation that allowed us to deal with what we call the “chicken and egg situation,” said Schneider. “An adequate fuel infrastructure is a prerequisite for consumers buying these vehicles, yet a lack of vehicles on the road would provide little incentive to establish a fuel infrastructure. The Focus Flexi-Fuel Vehicle, or FFV, proves what can be accomplished when all the major players are working towards a common goal.”
Easy technology to use
The all-new Focus and Focus C-MAX Flexi-Fuel models being introduced are capable of running on both bio-ethanol (E85) and petrol or any mix of both in one fuel tank, making them truly flexible, both in terms of their technology and customer operation.
As bio-ethanol is a renewable fuel derived from plants (such as cereals, sugar beet etc.) or biomass (such as wood waste), the primary environmental benefit is the reduction of CO 2 emissions – the main greenhouse gas thought to be responsible for global warming .
When using this biomass or plant based material to derive bio-ethanol fuel, the CO 2 circle can, to large degree, be "closed-loop". The photosynthesis process of plants sees carbon dioxide absorbed by the plants, etc during their growth only to be released as the bio-ethanol is used as fuel. Thus, from a holistic "well-to-wheel" perspective, the use of bio-ethanol can lead to a 70 per cent reduction in overall CO 2 emissions compared to a traditional petrol only engine.
Another key advantage is relative cost. Ford of Sweden offers the Focus Flexi-Fuel technology at a very reasonable cost to customers. Offering this kind of benefit at a low cost is highly unusual when compared to other environmentally advanced technologies. With bio-ethanol E85 (85% bio-ethanol, 15% petrol) being similar in price to petrol with the government tax exemptions, the Focus and Focus C-MAX Flexi-Fuel models make both good economic and environmental sense for customers.
In addition to providing CO2 benefits the Focus Flexi-Fuel has air quality impacts with lower levels of emissions such as NOx than many conventional petrol vehicles.
“These Flexi-Fuel vehicles are a great win for our customers as they get a vehicle that is very environmentally friendly with highly affordable technology, and the car is available today,” said Schneider.
The technology to achieve the low CO 2 levels is not significantly different from the conventional petrol Focus model. Basically, three alterations were made to the conventional model.
First, the valves and valve seats of the 1.8-litre 16-valve gasoline engine are made of especially hardened material.
Second, there is a variable ignition map that adapts to the respective ratio of bio-ethanol and petrol present in the fuel tank. This is done automatically without the driver having to make any adjustments.
Finally, because bio-ethanol fuel has less positive cold starting characteristics than petrol, the cylinder block has particularly effective pre-heating once the temperature decreases below minus15 degrees Celsius.
Ford's SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY portfolio
Ford's portfolio of environmentally advanced vehicle technologies also includes advances in conventional powertrain technology that leads to higher fuel efficiency and less emissions. It also comprises high-tech diesel engines and direct injection petrol technology with lower fuel consumption.
The bio-ethanol powered Focus and Focus C-MAX Flexi-Fuel cars are alternative fuel powered vehicles that broaden this technology base. “What is exciting about these vehicles is that they are available today and that they not only help to reduce the environmental footprint of mobility today but also reduce European dependency on fossil fuels. Since they can also function as a hydrogen carrier, they could serve as a direct bridge to the era of hydrogen powered vehicle technology in the future,” said Derrick Kuzak, Vice President, Ford of Europe Product Development.
Kuzak continued, “Via bio-ethanol technology, as well as hybrid applications and hydrogen powered internal combustion engines, there is – although still several years or even decades away as a commercially viable technology – potential to bring even more energy efficient, hydrogen powered fuel cell technology to the market in the long term.”