E85 in the UK

Good to see so many different news providers picking up on the opening of the first E85 pump in the UK.  I saw the press release a few days ago and didn’t think too much of it, frankly.  But seeing it’s everywhere (in the UK-webosphere at least) I may as well reproduce it too.  Here’s hoping an Aero-X will be seen at one of these pumps in the future (one can live in hope, however deluded).



Morrisons supermarket will today open the UK’s first BioEthanol E85 filling pump, tying in with the first deliveries of the Saab 9-5 BioPower flex-fuel car.  The fuel will be branded as Harvest BioEthanol E85, with the environmentally-friendly pumps featuring a new butterfly logo and a blue filling hose.

Morrisons, which is the UK’s fourth largest supermarket chain (with 274 petrol forecourts across the UK), will locate the UK’s first BioEthanol E85 pump on the forecourt of its Albion Way, Norwich site to be immediately followed by supplies of Harvest BioEthanol E85 at another four of its sites in the East of England – those of East Dereham, Lowestoft, Diss and Ipswich – plus at five sites in Somerset, in the South West of England. Furthermore, Morrisons has already earmarked several other sites across the UK, where Harvest BioEthanol E85 could soon be sold, according to consumer demand for it.

Phil Maud, Petrol Director at Morrisons, commented on today’s news: “Morrisons is proud to be the country’s first petrol retailer to open a BioEthanol E85 refuelling pump, reinforcing our position as the UK’s largest forecourt retailer of alternative fuels. We believe that by encouraging the use of BioEthanol E85 we can contribute to a reduction in the harmful effects to the environment caused by the burning of fossil fuels.” Mr Maud went on to comment: “Furthermore, creating demand for this product will, in the medium to long term, present major opportunities for UK farmers, who have always had strong support from Morrisons, to supply their excess cereals capacity to supply BioEthanol manufacturers.”

Harvest BioEthanol E85 will retail for 2 pence per litre less than petrol. In Norwich, this means that, at the time of launch, it will sell for 84.9 pence per litre compared to 86.9 pence per litre for unleaded petrol. Morrisons has chosen East Anglia for the launch because of the region’s role in spearheading the fast-emerging UK biofuels industry.

The availability of BioEthanol E85 on the first UK forecourts has been timed to coincide with the first customer deliveries of the Saab 9-5 BioPower, which was officially launched in the UK in November 2005. Saab is leading the premium sector in being the first manufacturer to offer this innovative solution. Saab BioPower technology enables its cars to run on either the potent yet environmentally-friendly fuel BioEthanol E85, which is a blend of 85% BioEthanol and 15% petrol, or on pure petrol, without any adjustment required by the driver.  When running on BioEthanol E85, the fossil CO2 emissions of the Saab 9-5 BioPower are typically between 50-70% cleaner than when running on petrol. Furthermore, as its name suggests, the Saab 9-5 BioPower not only offers purer power, but more of it. Because Saab’s turbocharging technology and engine management systems make it possible to take advantage of bioethanol’s higher octane rating, an impressive 20 per cent gain in brake horse power and 16 per cent growth in torque can be enjoyed when the car runs on BioEthanol E85 compared to when running on regular unleaded petrol.

Jonathan Nash, Managing Director of Saab Great Britain, said: “Biofuels can play a crucial role in reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars, and as the Government itself said when it announced plans for a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) in November, a 5% use of biofuels today would be equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. Although I welcome the positive steps that the British Government has taken so far in its introduction of a 5% RTFO and the 20 pence-per-litre tax rebate on biofuels, our experience in other markets shows that the Government needs to take a more strategic approach. Government should show genuine joined-up thinking, by introducing an integrated package of long-term incentives to give consumers the confidence to make the switch to greener fuels, including BioEthanol E85."

Mr Nash went on to point out that: “In Sweden, central and local government financial incentives to encourage BioEthanol-fuelled cars – including a reduction in company car tax, exemption from Stockholm’s congestion charges and free city parking – have resulted in over five and a half thousand Saab 9-5 BioPower cars already being delivered to Swedish drivers since last summer. Here in the UK, Morrisons has demonstrated its commitment to the fuel – now let’s see the Government do the same.”

Futura Petroleum will supply Morrisons with the Harvest BioEthanol E85 in an initiative supported by the Energy Saving Trust and Renewables East.

Simon Davis, Head of Sales at Futura Petroleum, the supplier of Harvest BioEthanol E85 to Morrisons, commented: “We are delighted to be working with Morrisons and Saab to provide Harvest BioEthanol, the first E85 available to the UK public. This launch reinforces Futura’s position as the leading supplier of renewable motor fuels to British motorists.”

Also commenting on the arrival of BioEthanol E85, Tim Curtis, Director of Operations at the Energy Saving Trust, which is a not for profit organisation funded by the Department for Transport, Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government, added: “Today’s opening sends an important message to both businesses and consumers that retailers and manufacturers are taking the carbon challenge seriously and finding real solutions to reduce increasing CO2 emissions from road transport.   What’s more, the Energy Saving Trust is pleased to announce that projects of this type can receive grant support via its infrastructure programme, providing further incentives for industry to develop alternative refuelling options to deliver a more sustainable transport future.”

James Beal, Managing Director of Renewables East, the public-funded renewable energy agency for the East of England which is pioneering the development of biofuels and other forms of renewable energy in East of England, said: “I congratulate Morrisons for its proactive action in launching Harvest BioEthanol E85. Developing this market has the opportunity to create and secure up to 10,000 jobs in agriculture and fuel production in the UK, thereby providing a important market opportunity for the East of England given its position as the cereal-growing capital of the UK.

BioEthanol E85

BioEthanol is produced from a wide variety of agricultural produce, including forest residue, sugar cane, sugar beet and grain, making it a totally renewable and sustainable fuel source. When mixed in high volumes with low volumes of petrol, a potent yet environmentally friendly fuel, known as BioEthanol E85 is created.

Unlike traditional fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel, the consumption of BioEthanol E85 does not significantly raise atmospheric levels of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which is the greenhouse gas that, according to some scientific research, contributes to global warming. This is because the emissions that are released during driving have already been cancelled out by the amount of CO2 that was removed from the atmosphere, through nature’s photosynthesis process, when the crops for conversion to BioEthanol were grown.

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  1. The rollout of more E85 stations worldwide can only be good for SAAB.

    Here’s a partnership between the State of California, GM, Chevron, and Pacific Ethanol that’s supposed to bring more E85 stations to California: http://media.gm.com/servlet/GatewayServlet?target=http://image.emerald.gm.com/gmnews/viewmonthlyreleasedetail.do?domain=74&docid=21736

    Currently there is only ONE station in the state open to the public which sells E85. Actually five stations carry it, but four are government use only.

  2. Commentary about european sales for saab and volvo.

    Saab had an increas from 4 177 to 5 743 in february.

    +37 percent… not bad.
    Volvo dropped 12 percent. The total market was up 2 percent.

  3. This is why UK sales of Saab are growing so fast. Someone ( or a group of someones) at Saab UK is doing some very clever work that should be recognized and replicated the world over. This kind of integrated step doesn’t happen by coincidence and shows a really good commercial ( not to mention environmental) mind at work. Well done.

    Where are you Saab Australia? Saab US?

  4. That’s been my endless cringe since I discovered this marvelous site. But I see that only very little fans out there are really addressing and seeing through the real “pains” that Saab is going through and how to offer a cure. The cure is here and it is a simple matter: if sales are at record levels month/year in and out, the UK is by far the example to follow. They have the winning formula despite all the pains we all know. I am glad PT is also seeing this as an example to follow. Especially in the local scene with the folks in Saab OZ. These guys are more of a hindrance than a cure quite frankly.

  5. I see three things that make sales go up in UK.
    1) Moore dealers sell Saab. Very easy way to boost sales. If GM has a site why not sell saabs?

    2)English press has and is very possitive to Saab. They like what you get often the say that it is close to BMW but much cooler, and for that matter cheaper!

    3) They finally got a good diesel enginge. The know needs a more powerful one. And start roll out even moore E85-engines!

  6. Another reason that Saabs are doing so well in the UK, from my reading, is the concessional tax rate that people pay for owning them. I’m not overly sure how the system works, but cars with better emissions and mileage seem to attract lower tax rates, making them more attractive to buyers, especially businesses looking to lease a vehicle for an exec.

    If there’s a pom perusing these comments, perhaps they could fill us in.

    Combine that with a much wider acceptance via the press etc (due to larger cars like the falcon and commodore sized cars being regarded as “land yachts”) and the public there is much more open to the possibility of buying a Saab.

    Australia really hasn’t even started going down the path of environmentally friendly motoring yet. As our capitals are so far apart, I’d guess the problem seems to be less immediate. We can’t even get the govt to go to e5 ethanol blend without some huge fight. We’ve got a huge sugar industry in Queensland that got left out of the FTA and for some reason no-one’s been hooting and hollering about the possibilities with ethanol.

    Maybe a research topic for the future.

  7. Swade,
    You know how I feel about the UK marketing at the moment and I know we stand at 2 ends of the parallel.

    But first e85
    Nice to see supermarkets taking the reigns here. but unfortunately Morrisons are NOT the first.
    There are about 12 stations including supermarkets in UK’s South West area already supplying e85. People living in the Somerset area can already benefit from the new flex-fuel 9-5. Astley Saab in Yeovil are offering some very attractive offers on the new 2.0bio power.


    Saab Sales growth in the past 2 years is a total misconception.
    Just because a car gets registered doesn’t mean to say it has been sold.
    Saab GB may have sold the car but it has been sold to a Saab Dealer to sell cheap.
    Time after time I have posted on many forums that this is actually killing residual values and only has a detrimental effect on the brand as a whole.

    At present there are approximately 200 Convertibles, and 100 Sport Wagons, sat at UK dealer sites unsold but registered.
    Indecently if there are any UK residents reading this get down to your local dealer and snap one of these up quick, they won’t sit on forecourts long at these prices…!

    The tax Concessions that company car owners can take advantage of is negligible and any great savings ended at the end of 2005.

    To this day the press tend to hate the Saab and constanly like to remind readers that the Saab 9-3 just a sibling of the Vauxhall Vectra.

    The unfortunate truth about the car industry today, is that we are suffering a global slump in retail. What I mean by that is that ‘Jo Bloggs’ is not buying a new car, so the manufacturers are forced to pursue other avenues. This means Contact hire, Fleet Sales and Hire Car Companies. All these types of sale devalue used car prices, which is never good for any brand.
    But Saab has a bigger problem, they are being forced into this because GM need to produce 200,000 units a year. Retail business cannot sustain this at present so Saab GB keep ordering and the dealers are set over exaggerated sales targets.

    Rüsselshiem, which is not just any manufacturing plant in Germany as some jounalists tell us, but actually Opel AG’s Head Office and main Factory. Will start production of the next Generation 9-3 as we all know. I just hope Saab GB hasn’t killed the market by that time. Do you have any idea how depressing it is telling your customer that their £24,000 or (US$ 42,000) car is only worth (US$ 23,000) a Year later.

    If that is a marketing success then I think people need their heads checking.

  8. When the UK has outfits like Abbott Racing, Parts for Saabs and our dear friends at Elkparts that says a lot about that particular market indeed. Nowhere else outside of Sweden and Scandinavia would there be such a great number of options to service anyone’s needs about Saab as there is in the UK. As a matter of fact these companies are leading the world in their offerings. So, if the market in the UK was not buoyant and solid enough no matter what they do, these outfits will not be around and flourishing.

  9. WooDz,

    Am I reading you correctly on this? You’re saying that dealers are buying cars from Saab GB to sit on their lots, and those cars that are sitting there for sale are included in the sales figures?

    Sort of like record companies buying their own artist’s CD’s to inflate chart position?

    I don’t have any information to contradict you and I know that you’re quite impassioned about this, but it sounds extraordinary.

  10. Woodz – interesting to read your thoughts – especially on resale, a pet issue of mine.

    The concept of when a car is “sold” is pretty loose the world over. There are plenty of 2005 plated cars going for a song here too from all the major manufacturers. Saab is not an isolated case and like the music biz – its a kind of known evil. Not as extraordinary as you’d think swade. Just old-school sales tricks. The effect on resale is real though and thats a problem but not just a saab one.

    My comments about the marketing are more about the fact the the UK are actually doing sone interesting things to stimulate buyers. Morrisons may not be the first with E85 but really; if they want to make a big fuss in the press and generate interest, that con’t be a bad thing. At least Saab is in the press. Here the situation is improving ( lots of s/combi ads around now) but it was pretty quiet for a long, long time. And don’t even get me started on the ethanol situation here…

  11. Weather the overall network of dealers in the UK are game enough to accept the intake and old school sales tricks or not, they are very much getting off their butts and doing some good selling increasing awareness, market share, record sales etc etc. What is wrong with that ??? PT your points are again very valid and factual. Keep on sending your thoughts, I always learn new things through your feedback.

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