Fiat has reaffirmed it's commitment to alternative fuels in the South African market by showing off the new Strada Flex X-Space at NAMPO agricultural show from the 15th till the 18th May 2007 in the Free State.
Virtually indistinguishable from its siblings the Flex X-Space can run alternately on two or more sources of fuel. This includes cars capable of running on petrol and ethanol mixtures, as well as cars that can run on both petrol and natural gas. It is possible to run a Flex vehicle entirely on petrol or entirely on alcohol/ethanol or with whatever percentage of petrol mixed with ethanol you happen to have in your tank.
Drivers have the option of filling up with the alternative or traditional fuel type of their choice. The engine electronic control unit (ECU) automatically detects the fuel type being fed into the engine and adjusts the flow and engine settings accordingly.
Further engine modifications include a plastic intake manifold to improve flow dynamics, new injectors and new open and closure diagrams on the camshaft. A cold start system has also been added as engines with 100% alcohol struggle to start in temperatures below 15C.
Ethanol, the most popular of the alternative fuels, is produced from the fermentation of sugars in carbohydrates, derived from agricultural crops like sugarcane, corn and grains, wood, or animal wastes.
It has a perfume-like smell and is the same as the intoxicating component of alcoholic beverages - meaning, yes, if you drank enough of it before it was denatured, you could get drunk. That's why friends don't let friends drink ethanol and drive.
When using 100% petrol, the fuel consumption remains approximately the same as that of a petrol car. Because of the lower calorific power of the alcohol, the consumption gets higher according to the percentage of mixture. When using 100% alcohol, the consumption will be approximately 20% higher.