Ford Challenges GM In Nascent Bi-Fuel Car Market

Ford Motor Co. is going head to head with General Motors Corp. to capture a significant slice of a growing European market sector: environment-friendly cars and light trucks. Alternative fuel vehicles represent an increasingly important business for carmakers following demands by European governments to introduce purchasing incentives and improve the service station infrastructure for providing gas. Vehicles powered by compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas produce less of the harmful exhaust emissions of petrol-fueled vehicles. GM has so far dominated the European market for gas-powered cars. But now Ford is to install bi-fuel engines in its Transit van, Mondeo, and Focus models at European plants where new facilities will be installed alongside existing assembly lines. Bi-fuel technology has been available for some years. But demand from private car users has been curbed by the scarcity of refueling stations. Ford and GM have complained that Germany and Britain -- the two largest European car markets -- have failed to encourage fuel groups to build service station capacity. "The demand is there but governments need to create an infrastructure," said Nick Scheele, president of Ford of Europe.

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