9-5 Biopower wins award

SCOOP: It may be a long shot, but it looks to me like the 9-5 Biopower may be US bound after all. It’s just been honored with an award from ‘Popular Science’ and will make a big splash in New York before showing in US Auto Shows in 2006. Could this lead to a US launch in the future? Only time will tell. On the Fastlane weblog, GM’s Elizabeth Lowery details Biopower’s role in GM’s fuel strategy and whilst 9-5 Biopower forays into China and Brazil are moentioned, the uS is not.

Congratulations to all at Saab on a wonderful award and achievement. The full Press Release follows….

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2006 9-5 BioPower profile moving small.jpg

ETHANOL-FUELED SAAB 9-5 BIO-POWER HONORED WITH POPULAR SCIENCE “BEST OF WHAT’S NEW” AWARD

The ethanol-powered Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower has been honored with Popular Science magazine’s “Best of What’s New” award, an annual ranking of 100 breakthrough products and technologies that represent a significant leap in their categories.

The Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower will be featured in the December issue of Popular Science, the most widely read issue of the year. The vehicle also will be on display at the Popular Science “Best of What’s New” winners exhibition in Grand Central Terminal in New York City Nov. 8-10.

“We’re pleased and honored to be named one of Popular Sciences’ ‘Best of What’s New,’” said Jan-Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile managing director. “Near term, ethanol provides an effective first step to our energy challenges. It’s a bridge that can lead us from fossil fuels toward new, sustainable technologies that are still under development.”

Saab leads the premium vehicle segment in offering an ethanol-fueled vehicle, an eco-friendly renewable energy source. The Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower combines the benefits of ‘going green’ with sporty performance, offering more horsepower than its gasoline equivalent, and the ability to run on ethanol-based fuel or gasoline in any proportion.

The vehicle is now on sale in Sweden, and Saab USA plans to debut a 300 horsepower concept version of the 9-5 BioPower at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In addition, Saab eventually plans to debut BioPower models in its 9-3 Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible ranges.

Running on E85, a blend of ethanol and gasoline, 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 percent increase in maximum power and 16 percent more torque. This gives even sportier performance. The zero to 100 kph (63 mph) dash can be accomplished in 8.5 seconds and 80-120 kph (50-75 mph) in fifth gear in 12.6 seconds, compared to 9.8 and 14.9 seconds when running only on gasoline.

Ethanol fuel is produced commercially from agricultural crops or forest residues. 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.

“’Best of What’s New’ is the ultimate Popular Science accolade, representing a year’s worth of work evaluating thousands of products,” said Mark Jannot, editor of Popular Science. “These awards honor innovations that not only influence the way we live today, but that change the way we think about the future.”

“Best of What’s New” awards are presented to 100 new products and technologies in 12 categories: Auto Tech, Aviation & Space, Cars, Computing, Engineering, Gadgets, General Innovation, Home Entertainment, Home Tech, Personal Health, Photography and Recreation.

About Popular Science
Founded in 1872, Popular Science is the world’s largest science and technology magazine; with a circulation of 1.45 million and 6.5 million monthly readers. Each month, Popular Science reports on the intersection of science and everyday life, with an eye toward what’s new and why it matters. Popular Science is published by Time4 Media, a subsidiary of Time Inc., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.

About Saab
Saab is a division of General Motors Corp. Saab USA is the importer and distributor of Saab 9-2X, 9-3, 9-5 and 9-7X automobiles for Saab Automobile AB, Sweden. For more information, please visit www.saabusa.com.

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6 Comments

  1. “eventually” – doesn’t sound like Saab is in a big hurry to get the BioPower over here. And, of course, the reason they’re going to do it in the 9-3 is that they don’t want to take the 9-5 down market with a smaller 2.0 L engine.

    How much do you want to bet that the 300 hp BioPower concept car for the LA show is simply a 260 hp 2.3 T, with the boost turned up because of high octane of E85?

    All of this should be happening much quicker than it is.

  2. I’ll be at the L.A. Auto Show this year (like every year) so I’ll take photos and report what I find. I’m happy just to see that we’ll be getting something unique in L.A. from SAAB for once. Usually we are second-banana to the North American Auto Show, which is presented at the same time in Detroit. Detroit got both the 9-3X and 9X concepts while we got NOTHING in L.A. except production models. Nothing you can’t see at a SAAB dealer. Last year we did get to see the 9-7X though. I think it’s because they had more than one and already had another one at Detroit. The year before we got the 9-2X on a rotating podium (like the 9-7X) where we couldn’t get inside or really even see inside. Now I know why…

    I wouldn’t get too excited about getting the BioPower in the States though. Just because PopSci gave it an award doesn’t mean squat. They’ve given SAAB several awards in the past, and one never even saw production. Here’s a list of the Popular Science awards of which SAAB was the recipient:

    1993/94 “Best of What’s New” SAAB 900
    2000 “Best of What’s New in Car Technology” SVC
    2001 “Vision Zero” Reducing Incidence of Human Injury Related to Vehicular Accident

    Just because PopSci gave SAAB an award doesn’t make it any more likely to see the light of day in the U.S. Remember, here in California (site of the debut of the 300 horsepower 9-5 concept) we have exactly ONE E85 fueling station. In the bordering states, I think there’s maybe five others, MAX.

  3. I wouldn’t write it off that easily. The Biopower model’s already in production and I’m sure it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to bring it to the US. Esp if there’s a growing market for e85, which there is.

    Why not get in on the ground floor? Those that can’t get e85 can run it on regular until such a time as when it becomes more readily available. It could also open up some more access to the midwest corn states, not a traditional Saab market.

    It’s just my opinion (that they’ll bring it there) If it’s virtually cost-neutral, then why the heck not? If they don’t, someone else will.

  4. For what it’s worth, Minnesota (where I live) has by far the largest number of E85 stations, approx. 200. Iowa, to our immediate south, has the next largest number. But the national total of E85 stations is still only like 500.

    Saab has very good penetration in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, but very poor penetration in the rural areas (where most of the E85 stations are located).

    There used to be a Saab dealer in Albert Lea, Minnesota, a small town in southern Minnesota, but it was closed in 1993. There is still Meyer Garage, a Saab dealer right across the border in northern Iowa, which tends to serve the Rochester, Minnesota area (that’s where the Mayo Clinic is located, for reference purposes).

    The long-winded point of this is — Saab has a presence in the midwestern corn belt, but it’s all in the urban areas. (this is also very true in Illinois — lots of Saabs in Chicago, but nowhere else in the state). And it’s the rural areas that are pushing the E85.

    Toyota and Honda have now made great strides in dealer penetration of the rural and semi-rural American markets. And Saab needs to do the same thing.

  5. Swade, I agree with your sentiment and am an advocate of SAAB focusing BioPower sales on the states with high-concentrations of E85 stations to get a foothold in the U.S.

    However, it still wouldn’t make sense for someone like me, for example, who lives in an area with NO E85 stations, to buy a BioPower in anticipation of the day when E85 stations do become available. The BioPower takes a power “hit” when running unleaded gasoline because it’s tuned for ethanol. Why should I have to drive an underpowered SAAB for many years until a decent infrastructure exists in my state? Why not just buy a gasoline-powered SAAB until E85 stations exist, THEN buy a BioPower?

    I think that’s the catch-22. If the demand isn’t there, we won’t have stations. If there are no stations there will be no growing demand. It shouldn’t be on the shoulders of do-gooder early-adopters to get the market going, IMHO.

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