Tuesday Snippets

Ethanol’s not a big deal in Australia. The bigger car companies are against it primarily due to warranty fears. They figure we’re all pretty dumb and once a cheaper fuel is produced (it could be quite cheap here) everyone will just go for it regardless of whether our car was suited to it or not.

Consequently there’s been a whole big hoo-haa about whether or not we could even introduce E10 to the market place.

The Australian government, feeling the pinch over rising fuel prices and wanting to be seen to do something, announced that it would throw some cash around and encourage motorists to explore alternative fuel options. The big announcement was a $2,000 subsidy for people converting their old cars to liquified petroleum gas (LPG). But there was also a range of grants offering up to $10,000 for fuel stations to introduce an E10 pump.

It’s a beginning.

And Autoblog Green have a story about the fact that Australia is producing flex fuel cars already, but they’re all for export only.

Makes me think: if the upgrade to Biopower is so inexpensive (fuel lines, tank linings etc) then why not make all Saabs Biopower capable? They can still run on gasoline as normal but Biopower where it’s available. An all-turbo, all-Biopower lineup. It may just be posturing, but posturing can be important sometimes.

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Talk about cheap content…

M-Live’s Jim Miller takes a swipe at Saab’s BFJ ad on the 9-7x, saying that whilst the take on Saab’s heritage is fair enough, it’s out of line with the 9-7x as Saab didn’t really have anything to do with it.

Whilst that’s fair to a point, it does ignore all the work Saab did in re-tuning the vehicle, which has won a fair bit of acclaim amongst those that have driven it. Shall we mention the partial exterior redesign and the comprehensive overhaul of the driving environment?

Miller then cements his ignorance with the following:

Saab should have kept the “Born from Jets” line for one of its more sporty cars – one that has a little more actual Saab heritage.

He’s obviously been out in the kitchen heating up some Pop Tarts whilst the ads for the 9-3 and 9-5 range have been on the telly.

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And speaking of the 9-5, is there any better bargain on the US second-hand market than a 9-5 Aero?

Chmeeee over at VWVortex concurs:

I am now the proud owner of a 2002 9-5 Aero, 68,000 miles, and still covered by a Saab Certified used warranty (purchased certified by the previous owner). The torque in this thing is unbelievable. Step on it in 5th gear at 70 miles per hour and you are in felony territory before you have time to think. Its a great highway cruiser, which is important to me as I drive CT to NH and back almost every weekend. The handling is as good as you could expect from a mid-size front driver, and on top of it all, I can pull off 33 mpg with the cruise on 80.

I drove a 2003 9-5 Aero a few months ago and it was an absolute killer. And at around A$35,000 an absolute bargain to boot.

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After all the bashing Saab has had for the 9-2x and the 9-7x, it’s nice to see another GM brand copping the treatment with Saab enjoying the spoils….

What, then, makes this a Cadillac? As far as I can make out, it’s the badge. And they’re probably thinking of changing that too. I’d stick with the Saab if I were you.

*Grin*

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3 Comments

  1. Well, I can’t find a good place for this, so it’s here: Check out this article from Fortune magazine:
    http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/08/07/8382585/index.htm

    Delphi (formerly a division of GM) is creating friction wit their union for cuts to be competitive.

    Personally, I think that Delphi is right: US$27 hourly wage for production-line labor is excessive. That’s the ‘starting point’ — according to the article ‘skilled’ labor gets more than that. GM and Delphi have to pay a competitive wage to survive.

    Mike

  2. i think much of Australia’s reluctance to ethanol comes from that little controversy we had a few years back when some unscrupulous service station vendors mixed in too much ethanol for the ‘E10’ (back then the fact there was ethanol in unleaded wasn’t mentioned) and some people ended up with big engine repair bills.

    I’m sure it also has a lot to do with Oil Industry pressure and our government’s obsession with stupid energy sources, namely nuclear and using up our (substantial) natural gas supplies.

    I really think the government providing a subsidy for people to convert to LPG is stupid and shortsighted. In fact, it is almost switch and bait; LPG may be half the price of unleaded for now, but in 2011 the fuel will lose its immunity to the 38.5c (currently) excise on fuel. simple market economics also teach that if demand for something of a finite nature increases substantially (like oil, gas or iPods before Xmas) then prices usually rise too. so if the LPG user base suddenly expands from its currently limited taxis/converted 4WD/commercial vehicle/BBQ base… how long will the saving last? given it already takes around 30,000km to ‘pay off’ a $3,000 LPG install in fuel savings, i’m not sure the end deal is as clear cut –
    and that’s before we start talking about economy, power and accessibility to fill up.

    in comparison, you’d be struggling to spend more than a grand coverting a car to ethanol. at worst, the fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel line, injectors and ECU program (or carb jetting) would need to be changed. in newer cars it may only be a case of replacing some seals in the fuel system and reflashing the ECU to squirt more fuel in.

    Swade’s thinking on making all Saabs (and indeed, all new cars) BioPower compatible is right on the money. surely it isn’t too greater problem for modern automotive electronics for the ECU to adapt itself to whatever fuel or ratio of the two is being used? for Saab, it would be a worthwhile “first” to hold.

    i’d also like to see each Saab model family have a hybrid option or variant. do i want a 93 or 95? then choose your powerplant (BioPower, BioDiesel or BioPower Hybrid), then spec level, etc. limiting hybrid models to small, weirdly designed cars like the Prius only hurts the chances of the technology becoming accepted by the wider driving public.

    now all we need to do get E100 at the pump 😉

  3. i think jim miller’s view is valid given:

    1. most 7-x buyers probably couldn’t care less if it’s a “real” saab or not. they want an suv and the paperwork for it says, “saab.” so…in their minds, “case closed,” it must be a “real” saab, even if it didn’t come from a clean sheet of paper; and

    2. the 7-x really is just “another suv.” nothin’ particularly scholarly or seductive about that model which makes it stand out from the genre. yeah, save the “born from jets” for something better than that.

    but i agree with swade that he better not apply the same logic to the 9-3/5.

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