Focus Joins The LPG Line-Up | Part Three

Ford engine research revealed that petrol engines running on LPG require hardened valve seats to avoid premature wear, with an accompanying loss of performance and increased emissions. All Ford LPG vehicles incorporate hardened valve seats. Similarly, Ford spent $250,000 developing a new, twin-injector inlet manifold to provide optimum fuel delivery for each Bi-fuel engine. The spark plugs are unique to the LPG engines, as are the ignition coils on Transit, which offer a 25 per cent increase in spark energy. Regular maintenance has not been overlooked either, as Ford LPG vehicles have a plug-in diagnostic facility that allows qualified dealer technicians to quickly and accurately highlight any potential problem.

The inside story

On the inside, Ford LPG vehicles receive unique instrument clusters with twin fuel gauges on Transit models and dual functional fuel gauge on Focus and Transit Connect. A fuel select switch displays petrol or LPG fuel tank contents in the same gauge.

Research has shown that car customers prefer to retain the vehicle's load capacity and so Focus Bi-fuel has the LPG tank in the spare wheel well and a tyre repair kit if required. This leaves the customer with 0.23m3 litres of boot space, and 0.385m3 on the estate. In 2 seat mode, boot space is 1.085m3 for the 5-door and 1.445m3 for the estate.

On Transit and Transit Connect the spare wheel is located on the side of the rear load space.

Cost of ownership

Clearly, the benefits of owning an LPG vehicle are both financial and environmental. The cost of ownership currently includes a 70 per cent rebate on all Ford LPG vehicles, and the price of LPG fuel, which is roughly half that of petrol, is fixed until the end of 2004. LPG is also easier on the environment, as it burns more cleanly, which significantly reduces the emissions that lead to ozone formation.

Add to this the fact that LPG fuel stations are being introduced at the rate of one per day and the case for switching to LPG becomes stronger with each passing week.

London congestion charging

By way of highlighting this, the full-sized Transit LPG offers huge potential savings for inner London drivers in particular. It will save its operator £1,250 a year in congestion charges, £700 or more on fuel and qualifies for a grant of £1,250 against its purchase price. Over a three-year cycle, this will result in savings for a typical CV user of over £5,000. This is because Transit LPG meets the most rigorous emissions requirements set out by the government- funded Energy Saving Trust (EST), thereby qualifying for a 70 per cent Powershift rebate and zero rating for the London congestion-charging Band 4.

Published 20 August 2003 Melanie Carter

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