2007 Ford Mondeo
Normally we keep our commentary to cars you can buy in North America. When we break that rule, it's to highlight a remarkable advance in green car design.
So: Please welcome the Ford Mondeo Tri-Fuel, a version of the European Mondeo that can run on gasoline, ethanol, any blend of the two--and, liquified petroleum gas (LPG) as well!
What's LPG? It's a gaseous byproduct of refining crude oil--it can also be separated from oil or natural gas as they are extracted--that contains propane and butane. It's stored in tanks (compressed at roughly 250:1) and it burns cleanly, with little soot and less carbon than other fuels.
What's a Mondeo? It's a midsize Ford sedan, sold in Europe and elsewhere, roughly the size of a 2010 Ford Fusion. (If anyone remembers the 1994-2000 Ford Contour, that was a previous generation of the Mondeo.) The Mondeo was previewed in the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale.
Here's the cool part: The Mondeo Tri-Fuel goes the US definition of "flex-fuel" one better, by adding liquified petroleum gas (LPG) to the usual gasoline and E85 ethanol. It has not only an 18.5-gallon tank for gasoline and/or E85, but a second 12.9-gallon tank for LPG. Using all three, it has a range of 750 miles.
The power output of the Mondeo's 2-liter Duratec four varies slightly with the fuel: 145 horsepower on gasoline or E85, and 141 on LPG.
The Mondeo Tri-Fuel isn't the only car to drink from multiple cups. The Fiat Siena Tetrafuel, sold in small numbers in Brazil, runs on any mix of gasoline or ethanol (including E100), and can also burn compressed natural gas (CNG).
Aside from the two natural-gas cylinders in the trunk, the Tetrafuel's only modification is a second set of injectors for its 1.4-liter engine. Frugal Fiat engineers managed to use the same engine-control unit (ECU), only adding new software for CNG operation.
The math gets tricky: The Siena Tetrafuel's engine produces 79 horsepower on liquid fuel, but 67 hp on CNG. And it gives three different fuel efficiencies: 31 to 42 miles per gallon on gasoline, 20 to 28 mpg on pure ethanol, and 10 to 13 miles per cubic meter of CNG.
But Brazilian drivers are renowned for their ability to figure out the cheapest way to drive each kilometer. We're told they easily assess the most cost-effective fuel by juggling the day's prices for ethanol, gasoline, and CNG against the different mileages for each.
The Ford Mondeo Tri-Fuel will be launched at the Leipzig Motor Show in late March as a sedan, five-door liftback, and station wagon, and sold in "selected European markets" starting in April.
German prices start at €27,500 (roughly $35,300). That's a bit less than a comparable Mondeo diesel--but roughly $8,000 more than the base price of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid sold in the US. Moral: Europeans pay more for high-mileage cars, regardless of what fuel(s) they may use.
2007 Fiat Siena Tetrafuel
2007 Ford Mondeo