Ford has introduced its new generation Focus Flexi-Fuel, plus, for the first time, a Flexi-Fuel version of the Ford Focus C-MAX in Sweden this week.
Working closely with the Swedish Flexi-Fuel Buyers’ Consortium, a conglomeration of public organizations, commercial enterprises and private individuals, Ford was the first manufacturer to offer ethanol-powered vehicles in a European market. Ford has sold more than 15,000 Focus Flexi-Fuels in Sweden since the model’s introduction in 2001. In 2003 and 2004, more than 80% of alternative fuel cars sold in Sweden were Focus Flexi-Fuels.
As flex-fuel vehicles (FFV), the Foci can run on both an 85% ethanol blend (E85) and gasoline or any mix of both in one fuel tank.
Ford made three primary changes to the conventional Focus models to support flex-fuel operation.
The valves and valve seats of the 1.8-liter 16-valve gasoline engine are made of especially hardened material.
The engine control software senses the respective ratio of bio-ethanol and gasoline present in the fuel tank and adjusts the injection and ignition map accordingly.
The cylinder block has particularly effective pre-heating once the temperature decreases below -15ºC (+5ºF) to support the less-positive cold-starting characteristics of ethanol compared to gasoline.
Ford emphasizes that the primary environmental benefit of the flex-fuel cars is the up to 70% reduction of well-to-wheel CO2 emissions (because of the closed-loop biomass CO2 cycle) compared to conventional gasoline models. (That presumes operating the car on E85 and not gasoline.)
|Comparative CO2 Emissions|
|Model||Fuel||CO2||% Reduction from gasoline|
|Ford Focus 1.6 (100 hp)||gasoline||161 g/km||–|
|Ford Focus 1.6 (109 hp)||Diesel||127 g/km||-21%|
|Toyota Prius||Gas-Electric||104 g/km||-35%|
|Ford Focus 1.8 FF (125 hp)||E85||32 g/km1||-75%|
|1 Ford factors out the ethanol-derived CO2 to reflect “closed-loop” cycle.|
There are some 300 E85 fueling stations in Sweden, with more on the way. Currently at the pump, E85 costs between 6.95 and 7.84 Swedish Kroner (US$0.88 to US$1.00) per liter, compared to a price of SEK 10.29 to 11.06 (US$1.30 to US$1.40) per liter for gasoline. (A price of $1.40 per liter is equivalent to $5.30 per gallon.)
Although Ford introduced the Flexi-Fuel Foci in Sweden, it is working with organizations and governments in other countries such as the UK to pave the way for the FFV’s introduction there as well.