Former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief and current head of Public Citizen Joan Claybrook has long been a thorn in the side of the auto-makers. Now in a follow-on to this earlier story about problems with flex-fuel Ford Tauruses it seems that Claybrook has filed a petition with NHTSA claiming that the 2003-2005 Taurus and Mercury Sable shouldn't be labeled as flex-fuel capable. Evidently there may be a cold start problem with the vehicles in question and Ford sent out a technical service bulletin recommending that customers stick to gasoline to temporarily solve cold start problems with the Taurus/Sable. Public Citizen has also filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that Ford should not be allowed to advertise these vehicles as flex-fuel capable. If the FTC accepts the complaint then Ford could be facing a hefty fine, and NHTSA could conceivably order a recall and fix of the 228,000 affected cars.
In addition to the Taurus problems, Public Citizen also has a more general complaint about car-makers getting fuel-economy credits for flex-fuel vehicles. Car-makers get credit toward CAFE standards based on the assumption that a percentage of petroleum fuel consumption will be replaced by ethanol. Public Citizen contends that this should not be allowed because only 900 of the nations 170,000 fuel pumps dispense E85.
[Source: Detroit News]