Production of the first Ford F-150 flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) has begun at the automaker's Kansas City plant, as pat of a commitment to producing 250,000 FFVs in the coming year.

The flexible fuel technology is integrated into the 5.4-litre V-8 engine models and costs buyers no extra. FFVs can operate on petrol or ethanol blends up to E85 - a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol.

American-made ethanol is produced primarily from corn grown in the Midwest and is generally less expensive than regular unleaded petrol.

The technology is now new and there are already around five million FFVs on US roads, but only about 500 of the more than 180,000 fuel stations there currently offer E85.

Ford has announced a partnership with VeraSun Energy Corporation, the nation's second largest ethanol producer, which will increase the number of fueling stations offering E85, particularly in midwest markets where ethanol availability is growing. A consumer awareness campaign is also part of the initiative.

Ford F-150 FFVs will also be manufactured at the company's Dearborn truck and Norfolk assembly plants. They will begin arriving in dealer showrooms after the first of the year.

Ford also offers flexible fuel technology on its large Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car body-on-frame sedans, which have V8 engines.