Starting this fall, all new 2011 Buick Regals will have flex-fuel capability. The first boatloads of Regals from Germany have begun rolling off the docks in New Jersey in the past week and are being sent out to dealers. The first several months of Regal production will all be powered by a gasoline-only version of General Motors' normally aspirated 2.4-liter inline four.
Once the 2.0-liter direct injected turbo four starts arriving in late August, both engines will be able to run on either gasoline or E85 ethanol. The turbo will be GM's first production E85-capable turbocharged and direct injected engine. The engine was originally developed for the new Saab 9-5, which rides on the same Epsilon II platform as the Regal, and GM decided to install it in the U.S.-spec Buick as well. The new Regal has been available in China since late 2008.
According Jim Federico, vehicle line executive for the global midsize platform, combining direct injection and turbocharging will allow the new engine to get much closer to the volumetric fuel efficiency of gasoline while running on ethanol. Until now, normally aspirated flex-fuel engines typically have gotten about 15 percent worse fuel efficiency on ethanol. The Regal engine should cut that deficit to the mid-single digits and future versions should be just about even.