SAO PAULO, April 16 /PRNewswire/ --
Starting in May, buyers of all flex-fuel vehicles manufactured in Brazil by Fiat, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen will find extra reading material in the glove compartment of their new cars. Along with the owner's manual, they'll receive the Ethanol Handbook, a concise, to-the-point overview of the advantages of using ethanol instead of gasoline, produced by the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA).
The unique partnership, described as historic by UNICA president and CEO Marcos Jank, was launched with a news conference at UNICA headquarters in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, April 15. Ethanol points to a more secure energy future for the world, and Brazil has the technology and is applying it successfully, which makes for a significant contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The quality of Brazilian ethanol has been verified by numerous independent studies from solid, credible organizations the world over. Quite simply, it is the best commercially available option in terms of renewable fuels today, Jank said at the launch.
Produced in 2008 as part of UNICA's annual advertising campaign, the handbook focuses on gains from the large-scale production and use of ethanol in Brazil as an alternative to gasoline. These go far beyond a sharp price advantage in favor of ethanol, which traditionally has been the main reason behind its success in Brazil. Various studies quoted in the handbook, from sources like the International Energy Agency, show that using ethanol instead of gasoline reduces emissions of greenhouse gases by up to 90%.
When UNICA contacted us about this partnership, we embraced the idea with a great deal of enthusiasm. It's an opportunity to publicize the environmental benefits of Brazilian ethanol, said Jaime Ardila, president of General Motors for Brazil and the Mercosur countries. He added that GM currently offers 20 flex-fuel models in Brazil, which run on any proportion of gasoline or ethanol. The company projects that 60% of cars on the road in Brazil by 2012 will be flex-fuel.
Beyond its benefits in the fight against global warming and climate change, ethanol is a major economic development tool in Brazil, where the sugarcane industry employs about 850,000 people. Strong economic development in locations where the industry is more active was also mentioned at the news conference, as well as the fact that ethanol is gradually becoming an important export product for Brazil. Since the launch of the country's ethanol program in the 1970s, ethanol production and use has also reduced Brazil's oil imports by more than US$80 billion.
Representing Fiat at the partnership launch, the company's institutional relations manager, Marcus Vinicius Aguiar, described flex-fuel cars as a source of pride for the Italian automaker: We are constantly visited by groups from various parts of the world in search of a technology we control, to try and implement it in their own countries.
Volkswagen has always been a firm believer in the use of ethanol as a motor fuel, and clearly Brazil's program is the most successful in the world when it comes to commercial scale production and use of a biofuel, added the German auto giant's institutional relations director, Antonio Megale.
Speaking for Ford, media relations manager Celio Galvao described the handbook as a useful description of the clear advantages of Brazilian ethanol. We plan to translate it to English and distribute copies to Ford operations around the word, so more people can access the information and have a better grasp of the economic and environmental impacts of ethanol use, he concluded.
Prior to the agreement with the automakers, UNICA had already distributed over a million of its handbooks in 2008 as inserts in major publications and through other partnerships, including one with German chemical giant BASF announced earlier this year. Together, the four automakers involved in the partnership with UNICA answer for 80% of the Brazilian car market. Almost 100% of cars produced by the four companies in Brazil are flex-fuel. The companies also market imported models which are gasoline powered, but run on Brazilian gasoline, which includes 25% ethanol. The companies expect to distribute just over two million Ethanol Handbooks between May of 2009 and April of 2010.
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The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) represents the top producers of sugar and ethanol in the country's South-Central region, especially the state of Sao Paulo, which accounts for about 50% of the country's sugarcane harvest and 60% of total ethanol production. UNICA develops position papers, statistics and specific research in support of Brazil's sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity sectors. In 2008, Brazil produced an estimated 565 million metric tons of sugarcane, which yielded 31.3 million tons of sugar and 25.7 billion liters of ethanol.
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