Monday, 1 October 2007

What's outside today 25 - Ford C-Max Flexifuel

Outside my parents' place in Gloucestershire, that is - Morrisons is slowly expanding its network of forecourts that provide bioethanol-based E85 but any test of an E85-capable car still means heading for East Anglia or the West Country where the main clusters of pumps are to be found.

Same story as before - the fuel is slightly cheaper than unleaded but not by enough to offset the typical mpg penalty suffered when running on E85 (variously estimated at up to 30%). More movement is needed on the tax front before E85 can really take off - but if the fuel pricing can be got right, the E85 thing is a great concept. Unlike, say, LPG, E85 doesn't require a separate tank; cars like the C-Max FFV can run on any mixture of petrol and bioethanol in a single tank. And Ford doesn't charge a premium for FFV models, so you can buy one and just wait for the price of E85 to come down. If it doesn't, you can just run on unleaded without any drawbacks.

BTW renewable fuels have come in for a bit of criticism over the last year or so. It's important to bear in mind that bioethanol has nothing to do with the recent fuss about palm oil, which is an issue connected with bio-diesel. I'm still convinced renewables are an important part of our motoring future - if we're to have one at all - as long as sustainable and efficient methods of production can be enforced, either legally or by pressure from well-informed consumers asking lots of questions.

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