This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 01, 2006

Ford Unveils Hybrid that Can Run on Ethanol-Rich Fuel

Photo of a woman filling the tank of a sport utility vehicle at an E85 fuel pump.

If built, the Ford Hybrid Escape E85 would allow hybrid owners to fill their tanks with ethanol-rich E85.
Credit: Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company unveiled on January 25th a prototype vehicle that reduces petroleum consumption in two ways: it achieves a high fuel efficiency using hybrid technology, and it can run on a fuel made chiefly of ethanol. The Ford Escape Hybrid E85 is a flex-fuel vehicle, capable of running on gasoline or on E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Ford is a leader in flex-fuel vehicles, having produced 1.5 million flex-fuel vehicles in the past decade. In December, Ford launched the first full-size truck with flex-fuel capability, the E85 F-150. Ford is also pursuing hybrid vehicles with the launch of the Mazda Tribute Hybrid next year and hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan mid-size sedans in 2008. By 2010, Ford intends to launch hybrid versions of the Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego full-size sedans, and the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX "crossovers," which are midway between sport utility vehicles and cars. See the press releases from Ford and the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.

One problem with flex-fuel vehicles is the limited availability of E85 pumps, leaving most owners to fuel with gasoline only. But both Ford and General Motors (GM) are working to remove that barrier. Ford and VeraSun Energy Corporation announced in November 2005 that they'd work together to convert fuel pumps in the Midwest to E85. GM announced in early January that it would work with the State of California, Pacific Ethanol, and Chevron Technology Ventures, LLC to deploy GM flex-fuel vehicles at state agencies to explore the merits of E85. Pacific Ethanol is currently building an ethanol plant in Madera and plans to build four more plants in California over the next two years. See the GM press release.