Ford Motor Company has created the first hybrid vehicle that runs on an ethanol mix, the Escape Hybrid E85. The hybrid is able to run on a mix of gasoline and up to 85 percent ethanol, a clean-burning, corn-based additive.
The Escape Hybrid E85 is not currently scheduled for production. Still to be worked out are ethanol-related vapor and combustion issues, but Ford says these technical problems could be overcome quickly. President Bush’s State of the Union Address included a pitch for ethanol, which is already receiving some federal subsidies. But activists complain that ethanol incentives exist largely to serve the political needs of corn state politicians, and that few vehicles actually run on the fuel.
Ford says that if just five percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet were powered by hybrids operating on E85 ethanol, oil imports could be reduced by about 140 million barrels a year. The E85 hybrid produces 25 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) than a gasoline-fueled Escape Hybrid. “As a leader in both hybrid vehicles and in vehicles capable of operating on ethanol-based fuels, we are the ideal company to bring both technologies together for the first time,” says Ford spokesperson Anne Stevens.