The Financial Times reports that Toyota is planning to sell flex-fuel vehicles in the US by 2008 to address the surge of interest in ethanol as a renewable fuel. In 2005, Toyota indicated that it was developing flex-fuel vehicles targeted toward the Latin American market. (Earlier post.)
In the US, GM and Ford are becoming especially vocal about the potential for flex-fuel vehicles, partly as a way to comply with fuel-economy regulations, and partly as a marketing tool to reduce the concern among potential buyers about high fuel consumption in larger vehicles at a time when oil and gasoline prices continue to rise sharply.
... the Japanese company is eager to show it has not put all its eggs into the hybrid basket. “We’re studying all alternative fuels,” Toyota said. “We will not be outflanked.” Last year’s surge of consumer interest in hybrid vehicles has shown signs of flagging amid questions about whether the extra fuel efficiency justifies the high purchase price.
Toyota has also suggested that a less ambitious strategy of mixing only 10-15 per cent ethanol into gasoline might produce greater savings, given that it would require little or no adjustment to existing engines.