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Next-Generation Hybrid Vehicle Released

A special event in Washington DC shows off a new vehicle that marries hybrid technology with flexible fuel ability.

A hot topic as gasoline prices rise is the use of hybrid vehicles to save money. Companies offering hybrid technology are seeing sales rise, but none of those vehicles offered flexible fuel capability - until now.

Ford Motor Company, maker of the Escape Hybrid, is rolling out a Hybrid E85 version of the vehicle. The first one was delivered to the Renewable Fuels Association today in Washington, DC, and it can run on E85 fuel. Only 20 of the units are being put into the field this year as part of a real-world testing program Ford is undertaking.

During the event, Bob Dineen, president, RFA, commented that the combination of hybrid and flex fuel technology enables "increased energy independence and reduced carbon emissions like no automobile before."

The first Ford Escape Hybrid was introduced in 2004. Ford notes that today's Escape Hybrid E85 version produces about 25% less carbon dioxide than a gasoline-fueled Escape Hybrid. And Ford estimates that if 5% of U.S. vehicles were powered by hybrids using E85 ethanol, oil imports would fall by 140 million barrels.

Ford is already on record with a pledge to have half of its new-vehicle line with flex fuel capability by 2012.

In addition to RFA, another Escape was donated to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Governor's Ethanol Coalition.

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