Ford launches ethanol-compatible car

Ford Motor Company on Thursday launched its first ethanol-compatible sedan—the Ford Focus—on the Thai market.

Ford Motor chairperson and chief executive officer Bill Ford announced the launch of the Ford Focus model in Hua Hin, 130km south of Bangkok, where he was presiding over the opening of a new Ford showroom in the seaside resort.

The Ford Focus will be imported from Ford’s factory in the Philippines, entering Thailand with low import tariffs granted under the Association of South East Asian Nations Free Trade Area (Afta) agreement.

“In keeping with our commitment to innovation and building a better world, it [Ford Focus] also offers the latest ethanol technology which allows it to run on ethanol blends up to 20% as well as normal benzene,” Ford told a press conference.

“The Ford Focus is the first E20 capable sedan to be introduced in Thailand,” said the Ford CEO.

Ford currently produces about 24 000 hybrid vehicles worldwide annually, but by 2010 the company plans to increase its hybrid production to approximately 250 000 units per annum, Ford said.

Most sedans in Thailand are only capable of handling benzine-ethanol mixes of less than 10% ethanol. The Thai government is trying to promote the use of ethanol, which can be produced from local agricultural crops such as sugar cane and palm oil, as an alternative to imported fuel oil.

“We see Thailand as the regional automotive hub for Asean countries,” said Ford.

“Our Ford Asia Pacific and Africa regional headquarters are located here in Bangkok. We have our core regional functions here to support local expertise in each market and spearhead our growth strategy.”

Although Ford Motor does not currently assemble sedans in Thailand, the company has invested $1-billion in the AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT), a joint venture with Mazda set up in 1996, which now produces Ford and Mazda one-tonne pick-ups for the domestic market and another 100 000 units for exports.
- Sapa-DPA