29 März 2006

UK county police order Ford flex-fuel cars

Britain’s Avon and Somerset police on Monday received the first of an order of flex-fuel Ford Focus vehicles, which can be powered by the biofuel bioethanol as well as petrol.

Around 40 Ford Focus Flexi Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) will be delivered to Somerset fleets in southern England in the coming weeks, including 15 for Avon and Somerset Police, 10 for Somerset County Council, 10 for Wessex Water and five for Wessex Grain.

A further 40 orders for the car have been received from elsewhere in the country, a Ford spokesman said.

“We are very keen as a (police) force to support the environment,” Assistant Chief Constable Steve Mortimore told Reuters at a ceremony to take delivery of the Avon and Somerset police force’s first flex-fuel cars.

Nick Rogers, head of transport services for Avon and Somerset police, said: “This is a significant step towards reducing global climate change and one which we hope that others will follow.”

The Ford Focus FFV, introduced for sale in Britain last year, is the country’s first biofuel car and can run on bioethanol or petrol in any mix in the same fuel tank.

Bioethanol benefits the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by around 70 percent compared with petrol, Ford said in a statement.

Bioethanol is a renewable fuel derived from biomass such as wheat and sugar beet, and went on sale this month at 10 Wm Morrison Supermarkets in southern and eastern England.

Bioethanol is priced at around two pence per litre cheaper than unleaded petrol, from 84.9 pence a litre.

Bioethanol presently sold at pumps in Britain comes from Brazil and is derived from sugar cane.

Somerset and Norfolk are two of the counties where Ford is working with regional biofuel groups to establish FFV sales and bioethanol filling stations.

Green Spirit Fuels Ltd, the fuel subsidiary of Wessex Grain, a farmers’ cooperative, has received planning permission for a bioethanol production plant at its Henstridge grain depot in Somerset, Ford said.

The facility, expected to come onstream in early 2008, will be able to convert 340,000 tonnes of locally grown wheat into 131 million litres of ethanol a year at full capacity.

Ford said it was also in talks with other regional biofuel groups in Cornwall, East Anglia, Wales, the Midlands and Scotland.

The only other volume flex-fuel car sold in Britain is General Motor Corp.’s Saab 9-5 BioPower.

(Cf. news of Jan. 17, 2006.)

Source: Reuters AlertNet March 20, 2006.

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