Saab Oz go alternative with Diesel and E85

Parveen’s certainly shaking things up at Saab Oz, one of the benefits of having a Saab guy in charge as opposed to some of the GM-career-builders they’ve had in the past.

I made first mention of a diesel possibility for Australia early in July. I’m pleased to report that it’s now confirmed with press releases coming out yesterday (hey, an advance copy to your faithful Saabblogger wouldn’t have hurt, would it?).

Diesel Saab confirmed for Australia

Saab is expanding its product offering in Australia with the addition of the highly anticipated diesel range of 9-3 TiD vehicles.

The common rail 1.9 litre turbo diesel engine joins the Saab Australia line-up in January.

Saab will initially offer diesel variants of 9-3 Sport Sedan and SportCombi, but is also considering the introduction of a diesel version of its market leading 9-3 Convertible.

The cars will come with stadard six speed autos or manuals and will be available from January 2007. Pricing is yet to be determined.

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Not only are we getting the diesel, but Saab Oz are also bringing in a couple of Biopower test vehicles to stir up the ethanol debate here in Australia.

Big plans for Saab BioPower in Australia

Saab BioPower, the best selling environmentally friendly vehicle in Sweden, is on its way to Australia to promote the benefits of ethanol, a renewable alternative fuel…..

…..Saab Australia will be running a demonstration fleet of BioPower 9-5 vehicles in Australia to help media, industry and government understand the benefits of ethanol and to stimulate serious debate about alternative fuels in Australia.

Director Saab Australia and New Zealand, Parveen Batish, says with a focus on fuel prices and the need for renewable energy, the time is right to start planning a BioPower roll-out in this market.

“Ethanol fuel makes sense in a country like Australia. It is a renewable, sustainable fuel – unlike fossil fuel,” Mr Batish said.

“You don’t have to sacrifice performance, boot space or the environment to switch to an alternative to petrol.”

The reference to boot space is a good one. Australia’s answer to the rising price of fuel has been the promotion of LPG gas. The Australian Government recently announced a $1,000 rebate on the price of installing LPG on a new car, and a $1,500 rebate on converting an existing car. The installation of LPG requires a rather large tank, which is installed in the boot of the car.

I should stress at this point that these are test cars only. There’s no E85 available in Australia. We’ve been having a hard enough time getting any ethanol blend accepted here. Hopefully the arrival of these test vehicles will do a little something to stir the debate through.

Any chance Saab Oz could do the media runs for the Biopower cars here in Tassie?? Enquiries must be made!

The full Biopower in Oz press release appears after the jump.

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Big plans for Saab BioPower in Australia

Saab BioPower, the best selling environmentally friendly vehicle in Sweden, is on its way to Australia to promote the benefits of ethanol, a renewable alternative fuel.

Running on E85, 85 per cent ethanol 15 per cent petrol, Saab BioPower 9-5 was launched in Sweden at the end of last year. In less than a year it has become the top selling environmentally friendly car in that market and driven record 9-5 sales. BioPower has also been launched in the UK and other markets across Europe.

Saab Australia will be running a demonstration fleet of BioPower 9-5 vehicles in Australia to help media, industry and government understand the benefits of ethanol and to stimulate serious debate about alternative fuels in Australia.

Director Saab Australia and New Zealand, Parveen Batish, says with a focus on fuel prices and the need for renewable energy, the time is right to start planning a BioPower roll-out in this market.

“Ethanol fuel makes sense in a country like Australia. It is a renewable, sustainable fuel – unlike fossil fuel,” Mr Batish said.

“You don’t have to sacrifice performance, boot space or the environment to switch to an alternative to petrol.”

Saab BioPower is a ‘flex-fuel’ vehicle, which means it can effectively run on 100 per cent ethanol or 100 per cent petrol or any combination in between, thanks to the Saab advanced trionic engine management system.

“BioPower drivers can still fill up with petrol when they need to – which makes ethanol ideal for Australia where we drive vast distances, making the roll-out of a new fuel technology, such as hydrogen, very challenging in the short to medium term.”

While engineering changes are required to run a vehicle on E85, it does not require any new technology.

E85 has a much higher octane rating (104 RON) than petrol (95 RON), and turbocharging allows the use of a higher boost pressure and more advanced ignition timing – giving more engine power – than is possible on petrol without risk of harmful ‘knocking’ or pre-detonation.

The hardware modifications necessary include the addition of more durable valves and valve seats, and the use of ethanol-compatible materials in the fuel system, including the tank, pump, lines and connectors to cope with the more corrosive nature of the fuel.

Ethanol also actually improves performance. Currently Saab offers BioPower versions of its turbocharged four-cylinder 2.3 and 2.0 litre turbocharged engines, which both deliver increased power and torque when running on ethanol compared to petrol.

“The higher octane of ethanol gives Saab BioPower up to 20 per cent more power and 16 per cent more torque compared to the equivalent petrol powered model – and Australians love performance vehicles.”

Saab 2.3t BioPower generates approximately 155 kW and 310 Nm of torque, and 2.0t BioPower approximately 133 kW and 280 Nm.

Swedish Case Study

BioPower demonstrates the importance of community and government support to establish a viable alternative fuel industry.

The success of BioPower was the result of close collaboration between Saab, the Swedish government, fuel suppliers and the community to create demand for ethanol, to engineer the vehicles, encourage their take up and switch on the new fuel supply simultaneously.

To help make it more attractive to drive a car powered by the renewable fuel, the Swedish government offered tax incentives and other benefits to owners such as free parking in Stockholm and reduced excise on ethanol fuel compared to petrol.

Similarly fuel suppliers, which also have to upgrade their fuel storage tanks to hold ethanol, committed to a staged roll-out of E85 pumps at fuel stations over time to support the take up.

Ethanol background

Ethanol is an alcohol distilled commercially from grain, cellulose or sugar cane. There is a local ethanol manufacturing industry in Australia.

Ethanol has been produced from sugar cane for many years in Brazil and also from corn in the mid-west of the United States. In Sweden, it is produced from wood pulp and forest residues and feasibility studies for ethanol from lignocelluloses are currently being done.

As a fuel, the most important difference between petrol and ethanol is that ethanol does not add to global CO2 levels because it is actually ‘recycling’ CO2 that is already present in the atmosphere.

This is because CO2 is removed from the atmosphere through photosynthesis when crops are grown to be converted into ethanol fuel. It is then released – or returned – to the atmosphere during combustion when driving the car.

Burning fossil fuels such, as oil and petrol, adds to global CO2 because you are releasing new amounts of carbon that has lain fixed underground for millions of years. Ethanol is, of course, renewable and oil isn’t.

Well to wheel

Brazil, which is currently the largest producer of ethanol in the world, produces and consumes ethanol with a net saving of fossil carbon dioxide between 80 and 90 per cent.

A report from Chalmers (Magnus Blinge) demonstrates that 2 per cent fossil energy is required for current ethanol production from pulp residues in Sweden, which means a 98 per cent net reduction of fossil carbon dioxide. In future large-scale ethanol production from cellulose or grain, Swedish researchers calculate a net reduction in fossil carbon dioxide of between 90 and 95 per cent from cellulose and between 50 and 70 per cent from grain.

GM Alternative Fuel Strategy

GM has adopted a clear three-pronged strategy to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions:

Near-term: GM will continue to refine and improve today’s technology to provide better efficiency and performance. Alternative fuel vehicles are part of this near-term strategy. GM is producing alternative fuel vehicles, such as Saab BioPower 9-5 that run on bio fuels such as ethanol/E85.

Mid-term: GM will focus considerable resources in bringing more hybrid technologies to market. Saab’s recent BioPower Hybrid Convertible concept car, which made its debut this year was the world’s first fossil fuel free hybrid.

Long-term: GM will continue its efforts to develop and bring to market vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

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8 Comments

  1. this is good news. of course, bringing flex-fuel Saabs to Australia is one thing… getting E85 or E100 pumps installed at every servo is another, but anything that can stir the pot and get people talking. Who knows, it might kick people into demanding action from the government – finally!

    ‘In Sweden, it is produced from wood pulp and forest residues and feasibility studies for ethanol from lignocelluloses are currently being done.’

    hmmm… i know a place like that nearby which could do the same thing 😉

  2. Well, well, not before time either. Finally took a Pom to get things back on the rails. Many thanks in advance Parveen, at least for getting things started.

    Hate to say it swade but, when did we first canvas this? 12 months ago?

  3. I think anything that is brought to our market that is new let alone a leading new trend like Diesel and the Ethanol concepts will do wonders for Saab’s position and perception in Australia. Aside from the mishandling and lack of direction from previous regimes in Saab OZ, the lack of new innovations was killing it’s market share even more. Parveen is making it happened rather than sitting back. I am very confident that the brand will regain its popularity in the next 12 months.

  4. Excellent news. Everytime i’ve heard news here about E85 i’ve been waiting for someone from GM Oz to bring in some Biodiesels to spread the word. Bring in a dozen 9-5 wagons and give them to the pollies in Canberra gratis for a year and get the buggers to drive up to the cane cockies doing it tough in Qld and give them a reason to stay in the cane industry. At last someone’s got off their arse and made an effort.

  5. In February 2007 we will have 9-3 Bipower (BP)models in Sweden, 1.8t in BP version will get about 175 Bhp and 2.0t will get about 190 Bhp.

  6. Swade…Ive never seen this shade of green. Saaboz will see these new models fly off the lots and hopefully drag along some older ones. Note to Jay: Mercedes 6 cylinder CDIs missed bin5 NOx(.05g/m)by .01 so a 4 should be there.

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