On the same day Renault announced it would start selling an E85 ethanol-powered Megane in France using technology developed by its Brazilian unit, a Japanese automaker in Brazil announced its first four-wheel drive flex-fuel model.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and local production and sales company MMC Automotores do Brasil (MMCB) unveiled the first full-feature four-wheel drive flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) to be sold in Brazil. The vehicle, called the Pajero TR4 Flex, will be launched next month.

Derived from the Pajero TR4 currently assembled and sold by MMCB (a model previously sold elsewhere as either the Japanese-built iO or the Italian-built Shogun Pinin/Pajero Pinin/Montero iO), the Flex version has several modifications including different materials, modifications to the engine, and changes to the fuel system that allow the vehicle to run on any combination of petrol and ethanol (hence ‘flexfuel’).

Modifications to the engine control unit allow for optimum combustion with any fuel mixture, and the redesigned parts of the fuel delivery system add toughness and dependability, MMC said.

The two-litre 16-valve engine delivers similar levels of performance on ethanol-heavy or petrol-heavy fuel mixes. Running on 100% petrol, it develops 98kW (133ps) and 177Nm (18 kg-m) of torque; on 100% ethanol it develops 99kW (133ps) and 186Nm (19 kg-m) of torque.

MMC said it is currently pushing forward development of flex-fuel vehicles as part of its response to the global trend towards alternative fuel sources.

The company is also working on a flex-fuel model it plans to build for the US market in fiscal 2009.