|E85 rolling in La Marne.|
France today launched its first tests of E85 flex-fuel vehicles. E85 is currently not authorized in France, but the Marne regional government in eastern France has a special permit to test the ethanol-based E85 fuel in a fleet of seven Ford Focus flex-fuel (BioFlex) cars for one year.
French government approval of E85 is expected by early next year and the fuel should be widely available by 2010.
Only Ford and Saab currently have flex-fuel models for the French market, but Renault has said it will make half of its cars flex-fuel capable by mid-2009.
France produced 100,000 tonnes of ethanol in 2005; that is due to increase to 900,000 tonnes by 2008, propelled by the government insistence on a higher percentage of biofuels. France is setting a target of 7% biofuel use by 2010 and 10% by 2015. The European Union has set a target of 5.75% by 2010. (Earlier post.)
These experiments will show, to those who are still in doubt, that ethanol cars are possible in France and not only in Brazil or Sweden.
Our objective is simple: we want, by the end of the decade, the market to offer cars that can drive equally with gasoline or with a biofuel that is almost pure.
...The struggle against high-priced gasoline moves ahead by the reduction of our dependence on fossil-fuels and in particular by the diversification of our sources of energy, notably in transportation. Biofuels are one of the means of improving our energy independence, while assuring the protection of the environment and providing new outlets for French agriculture.
With flex fuel, we are preparing the economy of tomorrow. A post-industrial economy...and from now on, a post-petroleum economy.—Industry Minister François Loos
Siplec, a top French gasoline distributor, which became the first in the country to sell gasoline mixed with five percent ethanol, is supplying La Marne with the E85.
The Ford Focus Bioflex uses a 1.8-liter engine that develops 92 kW (123 hp) of power and 165 Nm of torque, with European combined-cycle fuel consumption (E85) of 7.0 liters/100km (33.6 mpg). Euro-4 compliant, the car emits 169 g/km of CO2 gross or 50 g/km net (factoring out the carbon dioxide from the ethanol).