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Ford Joins European Alternative Fuel Initiatives

New Ford Focus FFV

Ford is joining two European alternative fuel projects, PROCURA and BEST. PROCURA (derived from “procurement”) is a three-year project that began today in Utrecht (Netherlands). It follows the January 25 launch of the BEST (BioEthanol for Sustainable Transport) initiative in Stockholm (Sweden) (earlier post).

Both projects, partly funded by the European Union, are intended to assist the market development of alternative fuels and vehicles through the establishment of large-scale demonstration projects.

Project-members come from several areas, including the automotive and fuel industry, local and national government organizations, research institutions and fleet owners (public/private).

BEST, which focuses on ethanol, has pilot projects planned or underway with Ford vehicles in Ireland, the UK, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. PROCURA, which looks at ethanol, diesel and natural gas, is to establish test programs in Italy, Portugal, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands.

Ford’s participation in PROCURA is focused on ethanol and flexible fuel vehicles capable of burning E85 or gasoline.

Ford has sold more than 17,000 Ford Focus and Focus C-MAX Flexi-Fuel models in Sweden, which, in 2001, became the first European country to introduce FFVs. This accounts for 80% of all Focus sales in Sweden. Nearly 40% of all Ford sales in Sweden now are FFVs.

Ford Focus Flexi-Fuel and Focus C-MAX Flexi-Fuel models are now on sale in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. The Focus Flexi-Fuel is also available in Austria and Ireland, and ready to be sold in France. Other countries are expected to follow.



When can we get some smaller (non-guzzler) flex-fuel vehicles here in North America? I'd like to be flexible, but buying a guzzler just so I can use ethanol is not happening.


I'd like to see the "flex" in flex fuel expanded to include hydrogen like was done with Ford Super Chief in concept mode.

I think it's time to move beyond concept and into reality. The Super Chief produced 50% more miles per gallon on hydrogen than it did on ethanol. There are no reasons this can't be translated into smaller internal combustion engines as well. While running on hydrogen, it's essentially a zero emmission vehicle aside from the oil that has to lubricate the engine.

As far as creating the hydrogen...corn can be used more efficiently to create hydrogen than it can be to create ethanol. In fact, it's about twice as efficient. So not only do you benefit from the efficiency of hydrogen when you consume (50% better), you benefit from it when you produce it (200% better). Aqueous Phase Reforming is the key to this improvement. One of the most energy intensive and capital intensive parts of ethanol production is the removal of water. This process is called dehydration and results in the anhydrous ethanol that is consumable in an internal combustion engine. The process of aqueous phase reforming allows for ethanol with water still in it to be used for reforming to hydrogen. This GCC link discusses the process:

The end result corn to wheels is 2.5 x better use of the same corn resource in producing miles on the road.

The key is that hydrogen needs to be legalized as a transport fuel. Bush will keep spending forever on research and more research taking our tax dollars to pay off his friends. All that really needs to be done is getting the codes and standards in place to legalize hydrogen as a transport fuel.


>> When can we get some smaller (non-guzzler) flex-fuel vehicles here in North America? <<

No kidding, you hit the nail on the head Schwa.

We'll know when the big 3 are interested in the U.S. being independent of foreign oil as a goal, because they'll offer flex-fuel vehicles (in this country) that are small and efficient - the current ones are only flex-fuel because it gives the Big 3 a break on their Fuel Efficiency requirements, thats the only reason.

That's why they are all monster vehicles.

tom deplume

Why do you keep advocating not using the embodied energy in the carbon content of ethanol? How much money have you invested in this concept?


The real problem with making a vehicle hydrogen compatible is the cost. A basic ethanol flex engine needs about $100 of components on top of the regular version, that won't give you a very efficient ethanol engine, but it can be implemented across the board. A hydrogen option means thousands of dollars spent on tanks, plus the extra fuel injectors and super/turbo charger to make it work properly. The new Saab flex-fuel car has a turbo that gives it an advantage in terms of power and fuel consumption (and therefore thermal efficiency) when running on ethanol, so with a bit more equipment the flex engines can be made more efficient, yet still cheaper than a hydrogen option.


"When can we get some smaller (non-guzzler) flex-fuel vehicles here in North America?"

Some time this year:


The Chevy Impala is hardly a Ford Focus (21/32 MPG, EPA "Large Cars" segment vs. 26/35 MPG, "Small Cars" segment), but I grant you that it is a start, and may win over some people of Schwa's mind.

On the other side, the three plausible defenses I can make for the automakers' tendency to roll out flex-fuel in larger vehicles first are these:

1. Big vehicles burn more gas. Replacing one full-size pickup or SUV with an equivalent FFV displaces as much gas with ethanol as replacing something like two subcompact sedans with FFVs, assuming each vehicle drives the same average number of miles per year. Since E85 is generally sold for less per gallon than regular gas, large vehicle drivers will also notice larger absolute savings on their gas bills, making it easier for them to recoup the cost of getting FFV technology in the first place.

2. Big vehicles cost more. This allows the couple hundred dollars of FFV-enabling engine equipment to be spread out over a larger base price, making the cost of an FFV upgrade a smaller percentage of the total cost of the car. This makes it more palatable on the retail market.

3. Big vehicles are more popular and more profitable. According to the US Department of Commerce, about 9.3 million light trucks were sold in 2004, vs. 7.5m cars. We all know that automakers earn fatter profits on the trucks than the cars. They have more incentive to spend on truck R&D, and to introduce whatever sales-boosting gimmicks they have first on those trucks, and only later (when volume production has made things cheaper and easier) on their cars.


Well Schwa said non-guzzler and wall the Impala clearly isn’t the most fuel efficient car out there, it’s not a gas-guzzler.


Exactly. It's not a full size pickup, but it's also not a Focus. It's somewhere in between, probably a bit closer to the Focus.

Some people might be in the market for the smallest or most efficient vehicle possible; this ain't it. But for a large segment of car-buyers, a the new Impala finally brings FFV technology to a non-guzzler vehicle.

Non pickup/SUV drivers living in areas with plentiful E85 (the midwest) might now choose the Impala specifically for its ability to use cleaner and cheaper fuel. Whether it satisfies Schwa's notion of a non-guzzler will be up to him to decide.


The US government could require all new vehicles cars sold be fuel-flexible. Bio-fuel production in this country is increasing every year, but it’s going to take a longtime before it replaces oil in a major way. Yearly ethanol production only 3% of total gasoline sales and this does not take diesel sales into consideration. The transition to E85 based fuels would be a lot easier for the public if they were already driving FFV and thus only had to purchase E85 it upon it’s availability at the pump. Five million cars on the road today are already fuel-flexible vehicles!

Leonard Greenberg

I have a SRX Cadillac does this have FFV capeibility? I don't think any high performance engine would work on that fuel? My cadillac is an 8cyl. car What would those cars use? Also have a Porcha


L. Greenberg-

I don't know your car very well, but you could check the manual. See if it recommends fuel over 104 octance. If it does, ethanol will probably not work very well.



Leonard Greenberg

Your SRX and Porsche will not run on E85 and it’s not because there performance vehicles, it’s because there just not setup for it.

If you read this article you will find that when a vehicle can take advantage of the octane advantage E85 has over normal gas it actually better for performance.

If you want an SUV that can run on E85 look for a Yukon, Tahoe or Suburban with a 5.3L V8 that has a E85 label on the inside of the fuel door and/or a yellow gas cap.

Bigger list of vehicles:

Tom Van Brunt

Dear Sirs:

I am thinking about buying a small boat. I understand boat motors drink gas. Do you folks know of anyone who is building E 85 flex motors (inboard or outboard) or other alternative fuel engines for boats?

Thank You

Tom Van Brunt

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