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VW Ceases Production of Gasoline-Only Models in Brazil; All to Be Flex-Fuel

VW’s flex-fuel sales in Brazil

Effective this month, Volkswagen Brazil is halting production of gasoline-only models in the country. All vehicles with gasoline engines will now roll off the line flex-fuel-capable.

While a number of manufacturers offer flex-fuel vehicles in Brazil, VW is the first to switch entirely to the technology across its entire line-up.

VW introduced its flex-fuel 1.6-liter Goal in March 2003, followed by the 1.0-liter Fox in October 2003 with the Bosch flex-fuel engine management system (earlier post).

VW has been a leader in the Brazilian flex-fuel market from the beginning, and now has a 35% market share, with aggregate flex-fuel sales of 575,111 units through April 2006. The Goal and the Fox together represent of those 464,087 units.

More than 75% of all new vehicles sold in Brazil are flex-fuel. Brazil offers E100 (100% ethanol) at its gas stations, as well as E25 (25% ethanol and 75% gasoline). About 20% of Brazil’s transport fuel market is ethanol, compared with about 1% world-wide.



VW will win big because it's an innovator. Thumbs up if you're listening!


It takes balls to make bank. VW keeps this kind of approach in action, they'll be sound as a pound in the upcoming global economy transitions.

Rafael Seidl



"Drivers in Brazil have the following choices when they fill up: gasoline with a 25% additive of sugarcane-based ethanol; pure sugarcane-based ethanol, or diesel - which also has an ethanol additive)."

The Brazilian market for new cars that are limited by their fuel systems to E10 is probably very small by now. Petrobras has even had to promise to curb its gasoline exports to keep older vehicles on the road. As long as the US maintains a 54ct/gal import tariff on ethanol but none on gasoline, there will be pressure on local carmakers to ensure flex-fuel capability so gasoline exports can be increased again in the future.


VW and others should take it one step further now and start making E85/100 optimized cars that are more efficient than the simple flex types. It didn't work out before, but the infrastructure wasn't in place, now with E100 everywhere it makes sense.

hampden wireless

On other messages when talking about GM's flex fuel vehicles GM gets bashed quite bad for a token action, yet here today VW is getting praise for doing almost the same thing. Seem fair?

rob pearcey

Brazil are close to maximum production on E100 fuel hence the inclusion of bio diesel in Petrobras product range. Next generation car will be diesel hybrids.
I am at present driving a flex GM, but may convert to LPG on price alone it is the short term answer until a diesel hybids come a long.


Where are GM's 1.6 and 1.0 liter flex fuel cars? It's quite different, and GM isn't implementing 100% flex fuel, they are implementing it on their more thirsty models to lower their CAFE.


hampden wireless,

I wanted to buy a 4WD Chevrolet Colorado a few months ago. GM does not offer an Ethanol-compatible version of the engine, nor a diesel version of the engine, nor a hybrid version of the vehicle. After reading GMs sales literature, I got the impression that they're only implementing the new technologies on their "real" products -- which are all too big and too expensive to interest me.

I was ready to buy -- but I kept my small-engine RWD Ford Ranger (a week spent replacing parts and working the squawks out of the suspension made it a pleasure to drive again). While saving my money was a great thing, GM could have had tens of thousands of my dollars -- had they simply been willing to sell a smaller vehicle with the features that they advertised for "all GM vehicles" -- or any other fundamental features that I would find interesting. If GM would produce a diesel or a hybrid Colorado, I'd drive down and purchase one tomorrow. If they would produce an ethanol-compatible Colorda, I would sway my decision toward a GM product the next time that I were to buy a vehicle on my own schedule. With neither of those features, they aren't even a contender for my dollars.

Now, does anyone wonder why GM in serious trouble, and Volkswagen appears to be healthy?

Rafael Seidl

Luke -

I hat to burst your bubble but VW is looking to shed 20,000 jobs in Germany through natural attrition and voluntary departures. Their union contract with IG Metall limits regular working hours to 28.8 per week and prevents the company from letting staff go until 2011. A major scandal erupted last year when it transpired that senior union officials had been wined, dined and (fill in blank here) to keep them compliant, since German law gives them co-equal representation on the board and a say in virtually all personnel promotions. One result is that it takes VW almost 50 man-hours to put together a car, about twice the industry average. A special law, currently the subject of an EU court case, prevents any shareholder from acquiring more than the 20% or so held by the state of Lower Saxony. Porsche caused a big fuss when it dared approach that limit with an investment last year. Really, Wolfsburg makes Detroit sound like the capitalist Wild West.

What VW does have going for it is a number of successful brands (Audi, Skoda, Bentley and Lamborghini), due partly to shared parts bins etc. and partly to internal competition between the engineering departments of the VW and Audi brands. Wolfgang Berhard, the #2 man at Chrysler during its reorganization, now heads up the VW brand but he has his work cut out for him.

Perhaps the most important distinguishing feature compared to GM is that VW has addressed its perennially excessive payroll by investing heavily in innovation and, by expanding production capacity outside of Germany (e.g. engine production in Hungary). It has also tried hard to push its core brands upmarket, with some success.

So when GM gets little respect for flex-fuel vehicles in the US while VW earns applause for doing the same in Brazil, it's mostly a reflection of perceptions of VW as a company that is responding to customer demand. VW did not push for high ethanol blends in Brazil, it is merely adapting to local market conditions. GM, by contrast, is often perceived as run by beancounters and hostile to bold innovation - perhaps unfairly so, but reputations are not restored overnight.


I will never buy a GM product



Rafael Seid,

You're right about the perception; I hadn't been paying attention to the news.

However, the attitude of people on the blogs also a reflection of how GM's product appeals to the self-selected sample of people who post to blogs. For instance, the Jetta TDI is a vehicle I've seriously considered buying, and would be happy to drive. However, the GMC Sierra s too big (parking my Ranger in a cramped parking-lot *work*), and too expensive to operate (spending $40 to fill up the fuel tank up my Ranger makes wince already). So, when GM says "we have flex-fuel vehicles" -- but only in their favorite products (as opposed this potential-customer's favorite products), then you see how I would herald VW's flex-fuel vehicles, and not be very excited about GM's flex-fuel vehicles. I would buy one of VW's flex-fuel vehicles, but I'm just not interested in one of GM flex-fuel vehicles. My hope is that someone from GM marketing will read my post, do their own research, and find that listening to my opinion is a profitable one.

Should GM start selling the product I want (a compact pickup truck with a diesel, hybrid drivetrain, or another hippie-compatible drivetrain, I'll give them tens of thousands of my dollars. In fact, I'd probably pay about $5500 extra for a diesel, and about $8000 extra for a flex-fuel hybrid. If Toyota does it first, I'll spend money with them instead of with GM. However, this point is moot since the thr product that is is compelling enough to get me out of my well-worn 1998 Ranger just doesn't exist.

Don't get me wrong -- the variable valve timing engine that GM is pushing in the Colorado is a Good Idea. But, it's just not enough of an improvement to get me to shell out $24k -- at least while my old Ranger can still keep up with Interstate traffic(and doesn't scare the ladyfolk).


This headline is not true. VW Brazil still produces gasoline only models for export.


Ford Ranger Diesel




H Sweeney

I am an average American. I have two drivers, two cars (a Taurus and a Caravan). Can anyone tell me what would happen if I put E85 or E100 into them? Would they run at all, poorly or otherwise? I have a sneaking suspicion that switching fuels is not as complicated as people make it out to be. I would like to be one of these "zero carbon emission" people, I just don't know how. I want to find someone who can tell me how to run my oil-heated home on biodeisel and my cars on ethanol.



re: biodiesel in your home furnace, that's very straightforward. Your local supplier may be offering it already--a number are.

re: E85 in a car. You may already have a flex-fuel car. Both the Caravan and the Taurus have E85-flex fuel models on the roads. Your first step is to check your VIN number to see. The 8th character in the string will tell you. Instructions on that (including the correct character) are here: http://www.e85fuel.com/information/vin.php

If you *don't* have a flex-fuel vehicle, you run a couple of risks by using E85.

1. You void your warranty if anything goes wrong.
2. Ethanol is corrosive. You may degrade your hoses, fittings etc. over time if the materials are not the right ones.
3. A non-flex-fuel-capable injection system can't determine the ethanol content in the fuel, and so can't make the appropriate adjustments in injection to maximize performance and minimize emissions. Your car will still run, just not well. You'll also likely experience even worse fuel economy than you normally do with ethanol (which has less energy in it than gasoline).


hi can have the making of the e85. in sugar platfrom

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Will D

A lot of you are ignorant of the facts, and would just like to blindly dump on GM. Do your homework instead of just spewing your biases; visit the GM Brazil website, and you will indeed see that they have many sub 2-liter engines that run on gasoline or alcohol, and they've had alcohol capable engines there since the mid 1990s. The site is in Portuguese, but you'll manage to figure out technical specifications and alcohol (alcool). They've also been at it far longer in Brazil than Toyota, who is now being praised for finally showing up with an E100 product. Also, don't be so naive as to think that just because anyone makes a 1.0 liter flex fuel car in S. America that they'd bring it to the States, the manufacturers can hardly sell anything here under 2.0 liters. All of these companies are pretty good at responding to market demands. Unfortunately for many here, you hardly represent the market in the USA, and the numbers are just not there to justify building a lot of little cars just to have them sit around. Maybe your venom should be directed towards changing the consumer's idea of what is needed for transportation.

John D. Kelly

Dear Sir or Madam:

I own a 2003 VW Jetta TDI with a sunroof.

I am interested if Volkswagon makes any E-85 or Flex vehicles.

Please Resopond.

My closest dealer is in Wichita, Kansas


I want to See if my VW golf year 2001 will run on Flex fuel


A German-based car manufacturer is introducing a new model. It has costed the production and decided that Brazil is a more cost-effective location than more traditional ones.

1.What are the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy?
2.Who are the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’? In what way?
3.What does German industry do now?
4.What are the logistics problems which must be overcome?

please give me answers for the above questions?

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