Ford Motor Co. last week demonstrated a multifuel Ford Taurus and an electric powered van, two experimental vehicles designed to improve air quality in America and reduce its dependency on imported oil.

Asking for government support to develop non-traditional propulsion cars, John P. McTague, Ford vice president for research, warned "it is going to take more than mere wanting to put on the road, in significant numbers, either of the two vehicles.""Joint government-industry initiatives are critical if any alternative fuel strategy is going to become a viable national option in the foreseeable future," McTague said.

The vehicles shown were a Ford Taurus sedan "Flexible Fuel Vehicle" concept car, and a battery-powered compact van, the ETX-II Aerostar Electric Research Vehicle, developed with help from the Energy Department.

"The time has come for increased use of alternative fuels" to power American cars, said Harvey Klein, Ford Flexible Fuel Vehicle Program manager. "Alternative fuels could well answer many of the environmental and conservation questions being asked today."

Ford said FFVs can operate on methanol, ethanol, gasoline or any combination of these fuels. The company has also conducted research in the use of compressed natural gas and liquified petroleum gas.

Klein said the initial work on alcohol-fueled vehicles was done for Ford of Brazil, where production of ethanol-powered vehicles began in 1979.

"Alcohols are the fuels we believe to be the best long-term, widespread replacements for petroleum," McTague said.