Saab 9-5 BioPower Sales Lift-off in Sweden

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.

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· 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.

Pan-European Initiative

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.

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6 Comments

  1. now, now, not everyone is as clever as you tasmanians…….

    Heres a thought though:

    PM Howard is obviously a fan of ethanol. His mate owns Manildra ( biggest producer). He doesn’t seem to have a vehicle ( scuse the pun) to get this moving politically or socially.

    How about GM Holden ( SAAB) approach with a view to bringing in some biopower 95s on a collaborative project with the govt – for use in the govt fleet for example. PM also brings in the sugar cane farmers on some pilot project to produce eth locally ( if they aren’t already – scuse the ignorance) The govt scores points with the Nationals, the farmers, the greenies, motorists, GM and its smiles all round.

    Phase two is the 95s are launched to the local market with govt support via fuel/rego subsidy.

    Phase three is the Saab biopower technology is applied to the Holden engine mfg plant on the new gen v6s ( which are the base block for the new saab TTV6 anyway) and ethanol-using V6 commodores & saabs are produced here in Auz.

    waddaya reckon?

  2. Sounds good to me!

    I’d love to see little Johnny rocking up to parliament in a 9-5. He could keep Abbott and Costello in the boot, behind one of those barriers that keeps stuff from intruding into the cabin!

    Seriously, it’d have to have some real production potential in Aus. The resources are there. Just need to make sure it can be prodeced efficiently and we’d be off.

  3. Have you kicked this one around the campfire with some of your mates from SAAB before? Wadda they reckon?
    Perhaps a good one for discussion with the powers that be if you can get up to Syd for the motorshow?

    It would be a great way to put Saab on the map here in a new light. I think the mfg angle is interesting but know stuff all about the feasability of it.

  4. Pete,

    First up, you’re brutally overestimating my relationship with Saab. Other than a good relationship with my local bloke, it’s zero. I have no-one to talk to up there, though I wouldn’t mind establishing something.

    Second. I’ve been offered a press pass into the Motor Show, but I think I’d have a hard time getting the cost of the rest of it past the Mrs. Actually I KNOW i’d have a hard time. The raised eyebrow at the mere mention of it last week was enough! Gotta keep in the good books for future purchases 😉

    Third, I agree it’d be a great boon for the fuel industry in general and Saab in particular. Maybe a case should be put together and sent to Ralph Stephenson (Saab Oz) for promotion to Canberra.

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