WASHINGTON – The Brazilian division of Ford Motor Co. (F) on Wednesday announced a recall of 102,000 multi-fuel cars for inspection of a tiny gasoline repository used to start the vehicles when their main tanks are filled with ethanol during cold weather.
The small gas tanks in "flex-fuel" cars — which run on ethanol or gasoline or any combination of the two, and are wildly popular in Brazil — are essential in cold weather, when it is difficult or impossible to start the cars using pure ethanol. When temperatures plunge, the vehicles start up by using gasoline in the extra tank, then switch automatically to ethanol.
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, which is distilled from sugar cane and sells for about half the price of 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 its gas 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 are smaller than a windshield wiper fluid reservoir, need replacement.
Ford has three factories in Brazil, employs 9,500 people and is the country's fourth-largest automaker, behind Italy's Fiat SpA, General Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG. All make flex-fuel vehicles.