As part of its drive toward energy independence, Brazil has encouraged the use of cars that run on any combination of ethanol and gasoline. More than 2 million of the flex-fuel cars have now been sold in the country, accounting for 77% of the market.
Brazil began its Pro-Alcohol programme more than 20 years ago to promote the use of ethanol as an alternative fuel for cars.
At the time, Brazil had a military government, which wanted to reduce the country’s dependence on imported Middle Eastern petroleum after the 1970s oil shocks.
The idea fell out of favour in the 1990s after sugar prices rose and the price of oil fell, while Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras discovered new offshore oilfields which reduced the need for imports.
But in 2003, a new generation of cars capable of running on alcohol entered production, thanks to a combination of new technology and tax breaks.