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At the São Paulo Auto Show Renault do Brasil introduced flex-fuel versions of the brazilian-made Clio hatchback and sedan models. The carmaker accelerated development in light of huge growth in flex-fuel vehicle sales in Brazil – they took 32.1% of car sales last month.

“Consumers are moving quickly towards flex-fuel cars and we responded to this demand”, said Antonio Megale, sales director of Renault do Brasil.

Renault announced earlier this year that it would launch its first flex-fuel car in the first quarter of 2005.

The Clio and Clio Sedan flex-fuel versions are called ‘Hi-Flex’ and have a 1.6-litre 16-valve engine that runs on petrol, alcohol or a blend of the two. This is the first 16-valve flexible fuel engine to be sold in Brazil.

“Our cars are the first that can run solely on petrol so we can use the same engine in cars for the Brazilian market and export”,  said Alain Tissier, product director of Renault do Brasil.

Other Brazilian-made flex-fuel cars can run only on Brazilian petrol with its 25% blend of anhydrous alcohol.

Renault developed its own flex-fuel engine system and Siemens produces the components. The engine´s power output varies between 110hp and 115hp depending on the fuel used.

Renault is stopping production of Clios with the 1-6-litre 16-valve petrol-only engine.

It will also use the new flex-fuel 1.6 in other models. In the first half of 2005, the engine will go into a version of the locally-made Scénic minivan (the previous-generation model). In the second half of 2005, Renault starts production of the new generation Mégane Sedan II in Brazil and will also make a flex-fuel 1.6-litre version.

Renault is the fifth automaker to enter the flex-fuel segment in Brazil. Volkswagen, GM, Fiat and Ford already produce such models.

Next year, Peugeot and Citroën will introduce versions of their 206 and C3 models that can run on petrol, alcohol or a blend of the two.

Rogério Louro