It seems all the good news for Saab at the moment is coming out of Europe. First it’s the record-breaking sales in the UK and now this piece of good news in relation to the flexibly fuelled Saab 9-5 BioPower. From a GM press release.
· Order volumes exceed expectations
· Available with automatic transmission from January
· Demonstrator fleets to be evaluated in six EU countries
Sales of Saab’s new 9-5 BioPower models are exceeding expectations as thousands of drivers switch from gasoline to enjoy the environmental and performance benefits of using bio-ethanol fuel, an eco-friendly renewable energy source.
First deliveries of the Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower, currently exclusive to the Swedish market, began in August and more than 800 cars are already on the road. A huge order bank for over 2,000 cars has now built up, with an average customer waiting time of about two months. BioPower models currently account for about half of all Swedish 9-5 sales and this proportion is expected to increase still further next year when automatic transmission becomes available as an option in January.
Saab leads the premium segment in offering a car fuelled by bio-ethanol. The Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower is not only kinder to the environment, it also produces more power and performance than its gasoline-only equivalent. And it is also a very practical solution because it can run, without adjustment from the driver, on ethanol-based fuel (E85) or gasoline in any proportions. That means a Saab BioPower driver can always put gasoline in the tank at any time should E85 not be available.
Ethanol is produced commercially in Sweden and other countries from agricultural crops or forest residues. Unlike gasoline, the consumption of pure ethanol fuel does not raise overall 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. In contrast, the consumption of fossil fuel adds ‘new’ CO2 to the atmosphere, instead of ‘recycling’ what is there already. In Sweden, ethanol is blended (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) and sold as E85 fuel so its use yields a net reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 80% compared to burning gasoline.
Running on E85, the Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower engine delivers 180 bhp and 280 Nm of torque, compared to 150 bhp and 240 Nm when using gasoline, a significant 20 per cent increase in maximum power and 16 per cent more torque. This gives even sportier performance. The zero to 100 kph dash can be accomplished in 8.5 secs and 80-120 kph in fifth gear in 12.6 secs, compared to 9.8 and 14.9 secs when running only on gasoline.
Demand in Sweden is particularly strong in the corporate and fleet sector, as indicated by a recent order for a total of 400 cars from rental operator Avis. The adoption of Saab BioPower also helps many companies and public authorities meet their ISO 14001 environmental standards.
The EU is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, including the encouragement of a greater use of bio-fuels for road transport, and Saab 9-5 BioPower models are to participate in demonstrations in six EU countries: Holland, UK, Italy, Ireland, Spain and Sweden.
This initiative, BEST (BioEthanol for Sustainable Transport), begins later this year and involves Saab, Scania and Ford Europe, backed by ethanol producers and university research centers. Public authorities and large company fleet operators will have the opportunity to test and evaluate the on-road performance of bio-ethanol powered vehicles.
An EU directive on energy taxation enables member states to apply reduced taxation, or a complete exemption, in order to encourage the use of bio-fuels in pure or low blends. The process is already underway in Sweden. In addition to benefiting from E85 fuel that is 25 per cent cheaper than gasoline, Saab 9-5 BioPower customers are also exempted from city congestion and parking charges, as well as qualifying for a 20 per cent reduction in benefit tax if they are company car drivers.