Some E85 news

There’s a report from Wards Autos that’s been doing the rounds for the last few days. I got it in my inbox late last week but was flat out with work as well as the car show over the weekend. But that’s not all, there was also a little more news related to E85 that I’ve been trying to figure out.

The news from Wards concerns the inevitable arrival of Biopower in the US market:

Saab Automobile’s 9-5 BioPower flex-fuel vehicles, which are proving hugely successful in Sweden and other parts of Europe, “definitely” are destined for the North American market, says General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.

Lutz, who oversees global product development, makes the promise in an interview at the recent Paris auto show here, but does not provide specifics on when the turbocharged vehicles that run on E85 (85 percent ethanol/15 percent gasoline) will be available in the U.S.

The automaker could decide to debut E85 capability on the volume Saab 9-3 before the 9-5 for North America.

It’s the bits that I’ve underlined that are of interest.

First, there’s no definite timeline at this point, though when the Biopower Beast debuted in the Detroit Auto Show at the start of this year, there was an approximate 18 month timeline mentioned.

The bit of particular interest is the thought that they’ll bring out a Biopower 9-3 prior to a 9-5.

Why is it so interesting? Well, I got some news from another Djup Strupe (that’s Swedish for “Deep Throat”) who attended a vehicle launch in the north a little while ago.

The relevant points of the email, edited to protect the source:

….XXXXX is steadfast in his belief that Saab’s technology, and Saab as a premium brand, should be a world leader in E85 and that Saab is committed to a complete roll out of E85 products in longer than 1 year and less than 3….

That’s no Biopower 9-3 in less than 12 months. My previous news on this was around March next year in the Swedish market. It seems that might not be the case.

…..Yes we did develop the know-how to control this higher Ron fuel (E85) but it was developed back in 1999. I’ll explain a little more – IT’S PURE LUCK THAT THE 9-5 CAN RUN ON E85, NOTHING MORE. You see every 2.0t 9-5 will run on E85 and the only thing that may cause a problem is the fact that ethanol is a corrosive substance so some parts had to be modified to prevent them from being eaten. e.g. a relined fuel tank and upgraded fuel lines and seals, that’s it. The Trionic system will sort out the timing all by itself and the turbo is perfect to burn it……it will cost them money which they don’t have to develop the 2.0 engine in the 9-3 so we will not have a 9-3 that will run on E85 car for at least a year.

Now, I’m no technician, but the following is known.

The 2.0 litre engines in the 9-3 and 9-5 are different units so it’s not a lay-down mezzaire that the technology translates from one powerplant to the other.

On the other hand, there’s more than one flex-fuel engine out there, including a V6 at Swede Team Motor. It was my understanding that Saab’s engine management systems on both cars could handle the timing and that the toughened parts were the only other main issue. This news seems to call that particular belief into question.

As mentioned, I’m no technician and the complicated bits of this are beyond me, but the source of this email is a trusted one and the person he’s quoting is definitely in a position to know.

I guess we’ll all know what’s really going on in the near future. If you’ve got any knowledge that can clarify the situation then comments are open, or email (

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  1. Maptun and BSR offer E85 conversion for all Saab 9-5 2.0t and 2.3t, MY:2002-2006.
    Nordic offers conversion for NG900 MY:1994-1998
    However, I have little worries about the fuel line corrosion, because they offer ECU upgrade only…

  2. I guess there’s little harm in having a full Biopower range as they can run both extremes of fuel. I just hope E85 doesn’t become the Betamax of fuels. SAABs bleeding edge could become very passe.

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