Good E85 reading

GM’s often been given a bit of a kicking for being late to market in various segments.  I’m still waiting to hear about the diesels that SaabUSA had better be bringing to the US market next year.

It’s only fair then, that a good decision is recognised and the release of the 9-5 Biopower model into the UK market is one such decision.  The BBC have published two great articles this week on the Biofuel situation in the UK.  The good news for Saab getting in early with Biopower is that whilst the market for E85 is virtually non-existant at the moment, that’s about to change.

It has to change.  Under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation announced by the UK government last year, 5% of all motor car fuels have to come from renewable resources by 2010.  And here’s an interesting stat from the BBC article that quantifies ethanol production in a manner we can all easily understand: One hectare of wheat produces about 29,000 miles of motoring, enough to take a car around the equator and still have 4,000 miles of fuel left (from Green Spirit Fuels).

Saab’s decision to get in early with Biopower means that they have a ready-made, politically mandated growth market available and they’re one of the first two players on the block in the UK (along with Ford’s flex-fuel Focus).  All they have to do now is get the formula right and push these cars in the marketplace.  With Saab’s growing market presence in the UK already, this should be an  achievable goal.

The next step?  Get the 9-3 models available with Biopower setups into the UK market as well.  It’s the best selling Saab model in all markets and as it’s known to be tested and ready for the Biopower setup, it makes sense to get it to market sooner rather than later.  Create the first and most lasting impression.  Don’t wait until a competitor can impress the pants off the motoring pundits – do it first.

The BBC articles are available at the following links and are recommended reading:


This one’s for PT, an advocate of ethanol fuel here in Australia (or more correctly, a bloke that’d love to get his hands on a Biopower Saab and push it hard on the commute).  A good old story from the SMH as to why we won’t be seeing ethanol-based cars here in Oz for a while…. A hint: It’s got nothing to do with cars, just a good old political bunfight.

You may also like


  1. There are 4.8 million hectares of wheat grown in Kansas.

    At 29,000 miles a hectare that makes for 140 billion miles worth of E85.

    Sounds impressive, only…

    In the US alone we drove 2.8 trillion miles last year. We would need 238 million acres of wheat to run on everything on E85, that’s over 372,780 square miles and that’s over 965,000 km²

    That’s the entire land mass of South Australia devoted to wheat production, every last meter. No roads, ho houses, just wheat. But what about the rest of the world? You had better hand over Queensland as well.

    E85 isn’t even a stop-gap, it’s a red herring, a myth, a creation of the Corn Growers Association of America back in the early 70’s that has nothing to do with “alternative fuels” and everything to do with creating fat government subsudies for the farm lobby and the giant agri-busniesses that pull the strings.

    At the end of the day, no matter how cool I think of 310hp 9-5 is, there just isn’t enough airable land to both provide us with enought E85 to make a real difference and keep food on the table.

    viva la hydrogen!

  2. I don’t think anyone’s proposing it as a total solution, just a part of it and one that can be grown for the benefit of several parties in local economies rather than a few oil barons overseas.

    And, being a native Victorian (and parochial supporter of Vic-based football teams), let me say that I’d be more than pleased to turn over all of South Australia for ethanol production. I once got chased by a South Australian bus driver for writing “Go home idiots” on his bus after a Carlton vs Adelaide Crows footy final in 1993. Pretty immature, I know, but it was the right thing to do at the time. Carlton won (and for those familiar with old AFL highlights, it was the game at Waverley where Justin ‘Harry’ Madden ran from the centre with Shaun Rehn chasing him and kicked a great goal from 50 – the most ungraceful sight I’ve ever seen, but it lifted everyone there from their seats)

  3. Well in that case as a Buckeye fan (Ohio State Football) I’d be more that happy to turn over the entire state of Michigan to the production of wheat.

    And my English wife would be happy to provide France so I guess we are set! 🙂

  4. Nice article swade. What a typically australian political crock of shit. Re-defines political football. With this sort of reactionary pointscoring going on, what hope does logic and practicality have?
    On a hopeful note, i just noticed on the back page of the January F1 Racing magazine (lots of flights this month – you gotta read something) there is an ad for Shell 100 octane fuel with 5% ethanol for sale in Australia. Hmmm.

    As for your comments Dinger – there probably is a element of the conspiracy that you claim out there but….c’mon mate, we’re talking about the car & oil business here. Lets get some relativity. Even if you weigh the likes of Monsanto etc into this, it really just doesn’t add up. Think about it….The Arabs, the big three, Halliburton…Caltex, BP…

    Hydrogen is a nice idea but its not much further than that at this stage. A science project for some engineers at BMW & Toyota.

    Saab have proven that ethanol runs cleaner and better in existing car engines/drivetrains with existing fuel delivery infrastructure and at a sustainable commercial price. Its not perfect but its a pretty huge step. Take a trip to Brazil or Sweden.

    As for the Biopower in oz – lets just say I won’t hold my breath.

    Cheers, for digging it up Swade.

  5. Conspiracy? There’s no Corn lobby ethanol conspiracy. They have always been very open about their goals and hopes in ethanol increasing corn prices.

    I live in Ohio, corn country. It’s no secret of their desire that ethanol will lead, not to increased corn production, but rather increased in revenue for the corn they already grow.

    Here’s an article that talks about Ohio’s new ethanol plant and how it will lead to:

    A) Alternative and renewable fuels
    B) A cleaner and healthier environment
    C) Farmers getting more money for their corn.

    Although a complete shift to E85 would have an interesting impact on the power of energy, switching the center of power from the Middle East, to the Midwest. And if someone’s got to be the “oil baron” then I certainly would choose a farmer in Iowa over a 7th century throw back in Saudi Arabia.

    NOTE: The “Midwest” is a term used to describe an area of land that runs from the western suburbs of Pittsburg to the eastern suburbs of Denver, and from the Canadian border south to Texas.

  6. I think we’re mostly there…although Dinger you’ve got to find me just one physics or chemical phd that thinks hydrogen is NOT the biggest red-tuna ever. Ya have to look at the (at least)4 steps H2 makes before it ends up in the fuel tank. And every fuel needs to be compared in basically the same way. All fuels have transportation issues (ie empty tanker return trips need to be minimal)so different decentralized (but compatible) fuel sources will be req’d. ie LS petrol/ethanol, ULSD/bioD. My problem with E85 is at present no mileage improvement…and that means a 2 or 2.3L Saab that still barely gets 25mpg. Now knowing the performance of todays and the potential of tomorrows engines, 25% smaller engines could get 25% better mileage with very little pain. Also a realization that petrol/ethanol is better for most drivers,ie short trips and less than 50 miles per day and diesel/bioD is better for harder commercial/fleet use…So I say bring it ALL E, bioD, twin-turbos, hybrid…BTW have been working on some Volvos lately and that 5 cylinder thing 1-3-5-2-4 every 72′ makes for really smooth runner and no balance shafts/chains necs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *