Ford of Europe sold 17,500 bio-ethanol powered Flexifuel vehicles across Europe last year, the automaker said on Thursday.

This was 60% up on 2006 and a sales record.  In January, Ford announced a sales record for 2007 across its entire European vehicle range (including Flexifuel), with a 5.4% (93,500 units) hike to 1,833,600 units.

Alternative fuel strategy chief Jan Brentebraten said: "We have every reason to be optimistic that our momentum will continue, as in early 2008 we will extend our existing Flexifuel range by adding three new models. Together with our new Ford ECOnetic line of ultra-low CO2 conventional technology vehicles, this will give us one of the broadest ranges… in Europe."

The Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max will be offered with Flexifuel powertrains from early 2008, joining the existing Focus and C-Max.

Ford claims to be the market pioneer of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in Europe where it has sold more than 45,000 since introduction in Sweden seven years ago. Ford also claims the largest owner body for FFVs in Europe.

While the majority have been sold in Sweden, the two current models have progressively been made available in Germany, UK, Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Denmark - with more likely to come.

All Ford Flexifuel vehicles can be fuelled with E85 (85% bio-ethanol and 15% petrol) available at a rapidly increasing number of fuel stations across Europe (currently, more than 1000 fuel stations offer E85 in Sweden; in other countries there are about 375 outlets).

The vehicles can also be run on petrol, or any mixture of E85 and petrol in the tank.

Ford said the combined use of bio-ethanol and its Flexifuel technology can reduce total life cycle ('well-to-wheel') CO2 emissions by between 30 and 80% (depending on the feedstock used and production process), without compromising performance and driving quality.