Saab Biopower to take off

Over at SaabCentral, Andante has revealed that a Saab hybrid may be on the way.

Saab Automobile is developing a hybrid version of the Saab 9-3. A prototype will be ready this fall, in time for winter tests. The car will have two engines, one gasoline and one electric. It will be developed in cooperation with Lund Institute of Technology

In other good alternate-fuel news, Saab’s Biopowered 9-5 is set for release later in 2005 and the uptake E85 ethanol fuel should ensure that there’s a pretty good reception for it in Sweden.

The Local reports that the number of ethanol fuelled cars on Sweden’s roads rose by 67% in 2004.  A significant rise in the number of pumps available for owners is expected soon:

Swedish motorists are increasingly turning green, choosing to run ethanol-driven cars. Last year the number of ethanol run cars on the road went up to 13,400 – an increase of 67%, according to according to Milj�fordon, an environmental organization based in Gothenburg.

With the government pushing for more environmental fuels, Statoil announced on Thursday that is to open up to 90 ethanol pumps (E85) at its petrol stations across Sweden. At present the company runs approximately 30 E85 pumps but tby the end of 2006 the company plans to have over 120 E85 pumps in operation…..

…..Ethanol E85 (85% ethanol and 15% petrol) is produced for the increasing number of cars able to run on either E85 or regular petrol.

A further substantial increase in the number of ethanol-compliant cars is predicted this year with Ford, Saab and Volvo all expected to launch environmentally friendly models.

For those interested, I’ve reproduced the GM-released details on the 9-5 Biopower over the fold.

Saab 9-5 BioPower for Swedish market

Saab this week (23 Nov) confirmed that sales of a new 9-5 BioPower model fuelled by ethanol, an eco-friendly renewable energy source, will begin on the Swedish market next summer.

The Saab 9-5 BioPower will provide customers with a premium quality offer for the first time in a rapidly growing market niche that is supported by favourable environmental and business tax concessions. Its 2.0-liter turbo engine also delivers a significant performance improvement when running on ethanol-based fuel, while still being able to use gasoline if necessary.

In Sweden, Saab 9-5 BioPower customers will be able to use E85 fuel (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) which costs about 25 per cent less per liter at the pumps. They will also be exempt from projected city congestion and parking charges. In addition, company car drivers will qualify for a 20 per cent reduction in car benefit tax.

On the road, the 180 bhp/ 280 Nm Saab 9-5 BioPower running on E85 delivers sportier performance due to a significant 30 bhp lift in maximum power and 40 Nm more torque, compared to its gasoline-powered equivalent. Whilst fuel economy in SEK/km in city and mixed driving conditions is unlikely to show an improvement, testing indicates that a useful 15 per cent gain in fuel cost in SEK/km can be expected at cruising speeds because of a better combustion with higher efficiency.

Ethanol fuel is produced commercially from agricultural crops and, unlike gasoline, its consumption does not raise atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the ‘greenhouse’ gas that contributes to global warming. This is because emissions during driving are balanced by the amount of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere when crops for conversion are grown.

The adaptability of Saab’s powerful Trionic engine management system has facilitated re-programming to accommodate the different ignition timing characteristics and fuel/air mixture requirements of ethanol. Other significant modifications required are the use of ethanol-compatible materials for the fuel tank, fuel lines and connectors.

During the development of the BioPower engine, Saab engineers liaised with General Motors colleagues in Brazil where 100 percent ethanol (E100), produced locally from sugar cane, is the dominant fuel on the market.

"Our engine management system automatically adjusts for the type of fuel so, if there is no ethanol available, the customer can simply run on gasoline at any time," says Kjell ac Bergstr�m, President and CEO of Saab Automobile Powertrain AB. "Turbocharged engines are particularly well-suited to exploiting the benefits of ethanol and our work with this engine indicates there is a great deal of development potential for this fuel."

The Saab 9-5 BioPower is scheduled to go on sale next summer. Prices will be announced shortly and are expected to show only a very small increase in comparison to standard models.

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