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WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Carl Levin (D-MI) today joined Ford Motor Company to tout the importance of American home-grown alternatives to gasoline and the Ford Escape E85, the world’s first full-electric hybrid vehicle capable of operating on an 85 percent ethanol blend. The event is a part of a larger effort by the two U.S. Senators to combat high energy prices, increase fuel economy standards, increase clean technology and increase the amount of clean fuels available to consumers.

"Every gallon of biofuels grown in the Midwest means a gallon of oil we do not need to import from the dangerous Middle East," said Bond. "We can and should do more to reduce pollution from vehicles. Ford today is showing its leadership in clean and efficient vehicles with a first-ever hybrid SUV that will also run on biofuels."

"Investing in ethanol is critical for our national security, our environment, and for Michigan’s economy," Levin said. "We can make huge strides by combining a massive effort on ethanol with other technologies such as hybrid cars and advanced diesel technologies. Ford’s production of the first hybrid car that can run on E85 is a great first step. I hope this is the first of many flex fuel hybrids driving us toward energy independence."

During the press conference, the Ford Motor Company announced that it is committed to making half of its annual vehicle production capable of running on alternative fuels by 2012 and delivered the first three of Ford’s E85 Escape Hybrids to the Department of Energy (DOE), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Governor’s Ethanol Coalition (GEC) for testing. According to Ford, the E85 Hybrid produces about 25 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a gasoline-fuel Escape Hybrid. It also runs completely on a completely renewable fuel, ethanol, which can help reduce this nation’s dependence on imported oil.

Bond and Levin have a long history of working together on vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Both Senators recognize the importance saving fuel and reducing pollution from vehicles. They also recognize the vital role that hundreds of thousands of hard-working auto manufacturing workers play in supporting their families and their State’s economies. Missouri is a leader in producing both ethanol and biodiesel biofuels and Michigan is home to many of America’s automobile makers.

The Bond-Levin partnership is expected to continue as the Senators announced during the news conference that they soon expect to introduce a fuel economy package that will for the first time bring together Democrats and Republicans, labor and management, domestic and foreign-owned automakers.