There’s been little news on Saab’s intentions regarding whether or not they’ll bring the Biopower range to the US market. Diesel’s out for the time being due to the current engine in Europe being incompatible with 2007 US emissions regulations. Biopower’s a possibility, but the costs of compliance, coupled with Saab’s small marketshare and limited access to E85 fuel for US consumers makes it a decision that has to be carefully considered.
There’s news via CNN Money today that may contribute to crossing one of those barriers off the list.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the big oil companies are not, as a rule, interested in selling E85.
But Wal-Mart is. The giant retailer is considering selling ethanol at the eight stations that it operates at Wal-Mart Stores and at about 380 more that it runs as part of its Sam’s Clubs division.
It could also decide to sell ethanol in a partnership with Murphy Oil Corp, which operates about 946 gas stations in Wal-Mart parking lots, and there’s no reason why Wal-Mart couldn’t sell E85 – which it calls “America’s Fuel” – at the rest of its 3,000 U.S. stores.
“Our goal would be to make E-85 available across the U.S.,” Rich Ezell, senior strategy manager of fuel at Wal-Mart, said recently.
Wal-Mart’s decision on this isn’t final. There’s efficiency, transportation and even political issues that are still to be considered. An improvement in cellulosic technology would help no end.
If it happens though, Saab USA should have Biopower versions of both the 9-5 and 9-3 waiting in the wings to take full advantage.