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​When the choice between gasoline and ethanol isn't enough

Fiat Grand Siena now comes pre-fitted for natural gas operation, full factory warranty and the best cost-benefit in its segment

June 6, 2019 - The Fiat Grand Siena line in Brazil comes pre-fitted for the optional installation of a natural gas kit on the Attractive 1.4 Flex model as an alternative to the Tetrafuel engine marketed between 2006 and 2016. This reinforces the quality of the sedan with the best cost-benefit in the market, especially for the consumer who intends to supply the car with LNG.

This option also makes the Grand Siena the only vehicle on the market to come pre-fitted from the factory for the use of natural gas, not only giving it more safety, longevity, efficiency and economy, but also reducing depreciation and warranty coverage after installation of its fifth generation kits (Certified converters by INMETRO [The National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality]). Among the modifications are the suction manifold designed to fit gas nozzles in the correct position and the presence of special valves (and valve seats) in the engine head with new geometry and stronger material. The collector's predisposition makes the air-fuel mixture more efficient and improves engine filling and performance when running on gas. And, with its volume of 520 liters, the trunk already has more than enough room for the gas cylinders (see photo).

With a wide range of equipment, the Grand Siena has been voted the best sedan in the Brazilian market with the lowest maintenance cost for its segment and the lowest value per kilometer of the market. "The Grand Siena is already an established FIAT product, especially among professionals. The New Grand Siena Attractive 1.4 factory modified, for the installation of a gas kit, is even more attractive due to its lowest value per kilometer among vehicles in its category and price range while retaining the original warranty insurances after installation", says Herlander Zola, director of the brand Fiat for Latin America and commercial director for Fiat in Brazil.

Pre-fitting the car for LNG is especially attractive for those who use it as a working tool. Those who travel 3,000 kilometers per month, for example, recover this investment (R$ 690) in up to six months, depending on the price of fuel. The warranty for the model is offered for one year for the entire vehicle and three years for engine and gear box, for purchases made by the Fiat Dealership Network.

Among the standard features of the New Grand Siena Attractive 1.4 are the air conditioning, power steering, on-board computer, electric front windows with one-touch and auto-reverse sensors, auxiliary function for turn signal indicating lane change, limit alerts and scheduled speed maintenance, dual parabolic headlights and follow me home system (keeping the car lights briefly on after locking the doors for easy visibility), and fitting for radio.

Latin America: a map of various fuels

A significant expansion in the supply of LNG in Brazilian fuel stations is expected, considering the fact that the country became the sixth largest holder of gas reserves in the world after the discovery of the pre-salt layer. In 2018, the consumption of LNG grew 12.5%. But there are at least three other fuel options in the country: pure ethanol, gasoline with 25% or 27% ethanol (E25-27) and B10 diesel oil (which contains 10% biodiesel). Some stations also have recharging points for electric cars.

In Latin America, gasoline is marketed with different percentages of ethanol. Depending on the country, it can have 10% ethanol or less, all the way to the pure version (E0). That's why FCA has to offer a wide range of powertrains. The most well-known solution is Flex, which dominates the Brazilian market and allows you to fuel with either pure ethanol or gasoline with at least 22% ethanol (E22-E100). In countries where gasoline is sold with a lower percentage of ethanol, FCA offers compatible solutions.

The simplest way to visualize this diversity of fuels is to divide it into six groups, as shown below.

Note that in Chile, Venezuela, Mexico and Bolivia it's possible to fill your car with pure gasoline, while most countries in groups 3 to 6 allow up to 10% ethanol in the blend. In Argentina gasoline has 10% ethanol and in Paraguay 25%, like in Brazil. But only in Brazil is it possible to supply with pure ethanol. Features such as altitude and octane also need to be taken into account when producing engines. In partnership with Magneti Marelli, FCA developed new software capable of automatically managing blends of zero to 25% ethanol in gasoline to improve synergy between groups 2 and 3. As of the end of 2017 some models, such as the Strada 1.4/1.6L, are already on the market with this new software in its version EURO 5 Argentina.

And we're just talking about gasoline and ethanol. Diesel also varies, for instance, in the amount of sulfur. In Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay, diesel is S10, which has a low element content. FCA’s diesel engines have been developed for this specification. The blend in Brazil, as we mentioned, still contains 10% biodiesel produced from vegetable oils (mainly soybean) and even animal fat. There are plans to gradually increase this percentage in order to reduce the environmental impact.

For the time being, the most famous and used biofuel continues to be ethanol, which in Brazil is produced from sugarcane. That's because the technology for its combustion is advanced enough to win over electric cars in terms of investment return. FCA President for Latin America, Antonio Filosa, spoke on the subject in his announcement last year on FCA's investments in the region: "Ethanol is very important, not only because we already have a whole productive chain in operation, but because it’s a clean and efficient fuel that will bring more development to many regions. Ethanol has the most appropriate molecule to extract hydrogen, so 20 years from now it can be part of [hybrid] fuel cell cars", he said.

Words: Daniel Schneider

Pictures: Marketing

Art: Fabricio Moura

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