The debut of the Ford Focus ECOnetic at Eden Project’s ‘Sexy Green Car Show’ marks a growing public shift to low CO2 vehicles – with Ford sales in the segment up by a third.

The Ford Focus ECOnetic boasts class-leading CO2 emissions of 114g/km, equating to 65.6mpg. Priced from £16,050, Focus ECOnetic slots into the range between Studio/Style and top end Zetec/Titanium models.

It is the first of a series of ultra low CO2 models announced by UK vehicle market leader Ford. The sub-140g Ford Mondeo ECOnetic, capable of 53.3mpg, goes on sale in July from £18,455 and an ECOnetic version of the all-new Ford Fiesta will follow in early 2009.

Sales for Ford’s existing Focus, Fiesta and Fusion models with CO2 emissions under 120g have risen by a third in the last year. During this period it has been announced that cars in this sub-120g segment will be exempt from the daily £8 London Congestion Charge from October this year. In addition, this year’s Budget declared that the £35 road tax applied to those vehicles will be waived from 2010 for the car’s first year on the road.

In the first four months of this year alone, 2,800 more new car buyers opted for low CO2 Fords than during the same period last year.

Roelant de Waard, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said: “Drivers want to be green but without giving up comfort and performance or paying a high price. ECOnetic answers that demand.

“Ford ECOnetics, along with the low CO2 169g Ford Kuga crossover, deliver style with a green conscience.”

Ford Focus ECOnetic: what’s different?

  • Improved aerodynamics: Focus ECOnetic is lowered by 10 millimetres at the front and 8mm at the back. Its aerodynamics kit, comprising modified front bumper skirt, sill claddings and rear spoiler, helps to deliver an aerodynamic drag coefficient (cd) of 0.31
  • Low rolling resistance 195/65R15 tyres
  • Enhanced lubrication: New low-viscosity transmission oil developed by Ford’s fuel partner BP

Ford ECOnetic Smart Driving Challenge launched with Energy Saving Trust at Eden Project’s ‘Sexy Green Car Show’

Ford and the Energy Saving Trust today announced a nationwide smart driving challenge to find the UK’s greenest motorist.

Smart driving techniques deliver environmental, financial and safety benefits through reduced fuel consumption and a smoother driving style designed to reduce wasteful acceleration and braking.

Ford’s ECOnetic range of low CO2 models, showcased at this year’s ‘Sexy Green Car Show’, will go on to regional smart driving events this summer.

Motorists will compete at six regional heats including July’s British International Motor Show in London. The Focus ECOnetic models they will be driving have a combined fuel consumption figure of almost 66mpg – resulting in a class-leading 114g CO2/km.

Ford has offered eco driving courses in Europe since 2000 to help Ford owners develop a smooth fuel-saving driving style. Fuel consumption is typically reduced by 15 per cent and savings can be as much as 25 per cent.

Andy Taylor, Ford’s sustainability director, said: “Designing and manufacturing fuel efficient cars such as Ford ECOnetic range becomes even more meaningful when linked to other measures to reduce emissions.

“Smooth and smart driving plays a huge but often unrecognised part in motoring – both financially as well as environmentally.”

Nigel Underdown, Energy Saving Trust head of transport advice, said: “The Energy Saving Trust believes that typical savings of 15 per cent – in litres, pounds and CO2 – are achievable and realistic by adopting smarter driving techniques. Drivers will welcome the savings as fuel prices reach record levels and will also help address global warming by reducing CO2 emissions.”

Candidates answering Ford’s call in local media to demonstrate smart driving techniques will tackle a three-part test. The first will establish existing eco driving skills among the 200 participants, with fuel consumption/ CO2 output recorded.

Next comes a session of eco driving instruction from the Energy Saving Trust before a second mpg/ CO2 reading is produced – accompanied by the improvement expressed as an annual fuel saving.

Heats will be at Murrayfield Stadium, in Scotland, on July 5; then Longleat, Wilts, July 12; Blue Reef Aquarium, Tynemouth, July 19; London International Motor Show, ExCel, from July 22; Knowsley Park, Merseyside, August 9; and West Midlands Safari Park, Worcs, August 16.

Each regional winner will be rewarded with the loan of a 1.6-litre Ford Focus ECOnetic – with the option of a tour of Ford’s wind-powered Dagenham Diesel Centre where the car’s ultra low CO2 engine is produced.

The overall winner will receive a home ‘eco makeover’ addressing energy efficiency to deliver lower utility bills (value £10,000).

What is eco driving?

  • Change up through the gears at between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm
  • Ease your speed. Driving at 70mph uses around 15 per cent more fuel than at 50mph
  • Anticipate to avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking
  • Use auxiliary equipment selectively, eg air conditioning
  • Switch off the engine whenever safe to do so
  • Check and adjust tyre pressures regularly, according to load and speed driven
  • Remove unnecessary cargo from the car to reduce weight
  • Reduce aerodynamic drag whenever possible, eg close windows or remove roof racks

What are the benefits?

  • Reduced fuel consumption
  • Lower fuel bills
  • Less CO2 emissions
  • Lower accident rates as a result of improved anticipation