Irish motorists will be able to buy an environmentally friendly Ford Focus car from November. The car runs on bio-ethanol, a green fuel that will be available at Maxol stations.

Ford claims that the bio-ethanol fuel, a by-product from cheese making, produces 70% less carbon dioxide than petrol.

The motor company says the new model Focus, launched today at Winfield Motors in Sandymount in south Dublin, will be capable of running on any mixture of petrol or bio-ethanol from a single tank with no reduction in performance.

Maxol opened its first bio-ethanol fuelling pump at its garage in Sandymount today.

A pilot project will run in the Dublin area which, if successful, will be expanded to stations outside of the capital.

Roche enthusiastic

The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, said he was enthusiastic that the new development could substantially reduce transport emissions of carbon dioxide, which are linked to global warming.

However, Mr Roche declined to be drawn on whether the green Focus would be exempt from Vehicle Registration Tax, thereby making it more appealing financially to motorists.

Mr Roche said the Government had given a two-year derogation on duty tax on bio-fuels, making bio-ethanol cheaper than petrol at the pumps.

The Chair of Ford in Ireland, Eddie Murphy, said if VRT was lifted, the new Focus could retail at €20,000.

Ford has already sold 15,000 similar vehicles in Europe; in Sweden, 80% of Ford Focus cars are flexi-fuel models.