The Brazilian division of Ford Motor Co. announced a recall of
102,000 multi-fuel cars (flexible
fuel vehicles) for inspection
of a tiny gasoline repository used to start the vehicles when
their main tanks are filled with ethanol during cold weather.
Flex fuel cars which run on either ethanol,
gasoline, or any combination of the two, are wildly popular
in Brazil. The small tanks in these cars are essential in cold weather.
Lower temps can make it difficult or even impossible to start the cars
using ethanol fuel. When temperatures plunge, these vehicles start up
and run until warm by using gasoline in the extra tank, then automatically
switching to ethanol.
Ford said in a statement that some fuel system parts in the
recalled Fiesta and EcoSport models may develop cracks, leading to fuel leaks.
Since they were introduced to the market in 2003, flex fuel
vehicles have come to represent 70 percent of new car sales in
Brazil, driven by skyrocketing international oil prices.
Brazil is a major producer of ethanol distilled from sugar cane
and sells for about half the price of petroleum based gasoline
in the country.
Latin America's biggest nation, Brazil is hailed as a model
for its use of renewable fuels, and ethanol is available at virtually
all fuel stations.
Ford said the recall affects models with 1.6-liter engines produced
between 2004 and 2006, and inspections will determine whether
the tanks, which can be smaller than a windshield wiper fluid
reservoir, need replacement.
Ford has three factories in Brazil, all which make flex-fuel
vehicles. The factories employ 9,500 people and is the country's
fourth-largest automaker, behind Italy's Fiat SpA, General Motors
Corp. and Volkswagen AG.