Flex fuel cars are cleaner and use less petroleum than conventional vehicles; hybrid gasoline/electric engines are cleaner and use less petroleum than conventional vehicles. Ford unveiled a surprisingly simple idea in Washington recently: why not combine them? They're developing an Escape E85 Hybrid, which is capable of running on both electricity and the ethanol/gasoline blend, E85,  that is gaining in popularity. The new version of the Escape will have the benefits of both a hybrid vehicle and an ethanol-powered one, and will produce up to 25% less carbon dioxide than the current Escape hybrid, already touted as the world's cleanest SUV.
It's a little tricky to combine the technologies, though, since ethanol is such an unstable fuel, and it's harder to develop a safe way to turn it on and off in the way hybrids require. They're working hard to make the idea workable for the mass market. Let's collectively cross our fingers for them.

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