Ford UK might enjoy being tied to British Petroleum through BP's Fuel Efficiency Challenge, but the timing of Ford's announcement that its Focus ECOnetic is part of the low-mpg tour could have come at a better time, PR-wise, for the oil giant. BP, which spent millions trying to rebrand itself as "Beyond Petroleum," recently announced it would shut down its Alternative Energy division. The two stories aren't directly related, but when your partner basically admits that gasoline alternatives aren't a profitable endeavor and the chief executive of BP's Alternative Energy division goes into early retirement, you might not want to promote your ties too loudly.
In recent years, BP has done at least some research and/or investment into butanol, bioscience, ethanol and hydrogen projects. The BP's Efficient Driving Challenge, which asks the question "How would you like to go that bit further on your tank of petrol?", continues in the UK into August.
Update: Actually, NPR got it wrong. BP is scaling back its alternative energy division but not completely shutting it down.