The major announcement of last week's Brazilian Motor Show in São Paulo was Kia's Soul Flex. Though it's the first Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) from Korea, ethanol derived from sugar cane is 40% cheaper than gas in Brazil, so flex fuel vehicles make up 85% of new car sales. On top of the cheaper fuel, the Soul Flex gets a 44% improvement in fuel efficiency, with power and torque figures also a slight improvement compared with the existing petrol model. Scheduled to go on sale in Brazil early next year, the Soul Flex is able to run on 100% ethanol, 100% gasoline or an ethanol-petrol mixture.
Brazil is currently ranked second in the world, in terms of ethanol production, and consequently its motorists enjoy the low cost of ethanol. As well as lower fuel costs, the industrial product tax (purchase tax) on new flex vehicles is only 11% – 2% lower than petrol models. Kia aims to further strengthen its presence in the Brazilian market by introducing new Flex models into each market segment – starting with an all-new Sportage FFV towards the end of 2011.