DaimlerChrysler has said that it will add flexible fuel versions of the Jeep Commander and Jeep Grand Cherokee capable of running on ethanol, from 2007.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Renewable Fuel Association in Washington, Tom LaSorda, president and CEO of Chrysler Group, said that "a significant part of the solution to our energy, environment and national security issues can be homegrown."

For 2007, all Jeep Commander and Jeep Grand Cherokee retail and fleet buyers who select the 4.7-litre engine option will receive vehicles capable of running on E85 fuel.

Also available in Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) capability for 2007 are the Chrysler Sebring sedan and convertible with the 2.7-litre engine; Dodge Dakota and Dodge Ram pickups and Dodge Durango SUV with 4.7-litre engine; plus Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans with 3.3-litre engines will also be available with FFV capability for fleet customers.

About 1.5 million FFV-capable Chrysler Group vehicles are already on the road, representing about 10% of all vehicles sold by the company since 1998.

"Biofuels represent a huge opportunity to reduce our consumption of conventional petroleum-based fuel and our dependence on foreign oil," LaSorda said.

For vehicles to operate on ethanol-based fuels, engine computer controls must be adjusted and the fuel system (fuel tank, fuel pump and fuel lines) must be altered to resist the effects of the alcohol (ethanol).

Chrysler Group FFVs use a patented sensor system to determine the exact content of the fuel (E85, petrol or any mixture of the two). The seamless transition of one fuel to another is accomplished by an advanced calibration system that determines the concentration of ethanol in the petrol and adjusts for greatest operational efficiency.

"Unfortunately, too many of these vehicles have been — or will be — running on pure [petrol] due to the lack of a fuel infrastructure," LaSorda said. "But we know that flex-fuels can work, when industry and government get behind them and encourage infrastructure development."

DaimlerChrysler aims for half million flex-fuel vehicles