Ford Focus ECOnetic - Click above for high-res gallery

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.


[Source: Ford, NPR]

PRESS RELEASE:

FORD ECONETIC MODELS SUPPORT BP'S EFFICIENT DRIVING CHALLENGE

BRENTWOOD, Essex, 10 July 2009 – The most frugal Ford Focus models have gone on tour as part of BP's Fuel Efficiency Challenge in the UK.

The Ford Focus ECOnetic, capable of 65.7mpg, can cut motorists' fuel bills by up to a quarter. That's the aim of fuel and driving experts from BP Ultimate who are taking a special eco-driving event to UK regions during July and August.

Ford's ECOnetic range of diesel cars and vans combine simple modifications for improved fuel economy, such as an indicator encouraging timely gear changes, modified engine calibration and aerodynamic changes to reduce drag.

The Ford Focus ECOnetic models being driven by BP's Efficient Driving Challenge participants are fitted with special equipment to analyse driving styles. Volunteer drivers are coached in smooth eco-driving techniques, which can reduce fuel consumption by 25 per cent.

Ford product manager David Calder said: "The Ford Focus pioneered the ECOnetic philosophy that environmental efficiency, desirable looks and class-leading dynamics are compatible in a single car. This combination has attracted awards and industry recognition, and has now been selected as the car of choice for BP's Efficient Driving Challenge."

Sue Horler, BP Ultimate brand manager, said: "The specially developed in-car computer fitted to our Focus ECOnetics reveals the effect of every squeeze of the accelerator and push of the brakes."

With CO2 emissions from a Ford Focus ECOnetic certified at 114g/km, and 98g/km for the Fiesta ECOnetic, both models lead Ford's surging sales of vehicles with CO2 emissions under 120g/km – and accompanying road tax of just £35 per annum.

Registrations of Ford's low carbon sub-120g models increased by over 71 per cent in the first half of 2009 versus the same period last year. The Ford Focus ECOnetic is on sale now priced at £18,145 on the road.

BP's Efficient Driving Challenge moves to Reading on July 28 and Northampton on August 4. See www.gbfuelefficiencychallenge.co.uk for further information.

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