Car maker Holden has unveiled an updated Commodore range, which, thanks to its support of ethanol blends of up to 85 per cent ethanol/15 per cent unleaded, could eventually be powered by household waste.
Members of the VE Series II Commodore range are the first Australian-made vehicles that can run on any blend of unleaded fuel, from the regular (91RON) and premium (95RON and 98RON) to ethanol mixes, like the commonly found E10 (10 per cent ethanol, 90 per cent regular unleaded) and the much rarer E85 (85 per cent ethanol).
All Commodores and Caprices powered by either the 3-litre V6 or 6-litre V8 are capable of handling any fuel type between regular unleaded and E85. The middle-of-the-pack 3.6-litre V6, however, misses out on this feature for the time being. It is, though, the only engine choice for drivers wanting an LPG-powered Commodore.
E85 is, according to Holden, a cleaner burning fuel capable of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 per cent. Also referred to as bio-ethanol because it can be produced from the by-products created during the processing of wheat, sugar and sorghum. The ethanol is then blended with 15 per cent unleaded petrol.
Holden is also investigating the viability of establishing Australia's first ethanol plant that would produce the fuel from household and other waste.
Fuel retailer Caltex will start selling the E-Flex high-ethanol blended fuel at 31 outlets in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra from October, with the number of outlets rising to 100 in 2011, including some regional sites. The new Commodore range goes on sale in late September.
Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux said the introduction of the E85 flex-fuel technology was part of the company's commitment to leading the push towards alternative fuels.
"We have placed an enormous emphasis on developing technology that can be used in today's vehicles to make driving better for the environment," Devereux said.
"That has included leading the way for Australian-produced cars with bio-ethanol, providing motorists with a cleaner fuel alternative when filling up their car. It is the first major step forward in our efforts to move renewable fuels like bio-ethanol from a niche product into the mainstream by making it available on Australia's top-selling car line."
Holden's energy and environment director Richard Marshall said the company believed bio-ethanol had a big future in Australia.
"It is a cleaner-burning, renewable fuel and long term we think it has the ability to displace up to 30 per cent of Australia's petrol use," he said.
Holden has introduced other changes with the VE Series II models, including revised styling for the front fascia, grille and headlamps. The new car also gets a state-of-the-art system to integrate music, satellite navigation and phone functions into one unit.
For more information on the new VE Series II range, check out our extensive Commodore preview.