Um, Biopower to be, um, released in Oz…

Call this one low-key, under the radar, whatever you want.

It seems Saab Australia are going to offer Biopower here in Oz. I mentioned in yesterday’s snippets entry that dealers were going to be driving the Biopower vehicles in Queensland in the near future. The last I heard, Saab Australia were going to bring a few Biopower vehicles in for the press and various government agencies to evaluate.

This article, from NextCar, makes it sound like it’s a launch and release affair. I’d have thought Saab Oz would pass the word around a bit wider (that’s not sour grapes folks, there’s no press release or anything as far as I can see – unusual).

Saab will be launching their Diesel range in January 2007 in South Australia. The big news here is the they will also launch Biopower in Queensland at around the same time. In addition, a Biopower vehicle has been added to the Queensland Government fleet for the nation’s first E85 trial.

As a result of Queensland’s leadership in championing ethanol, Saab has chosen the sugarcane growing region for the vehicle’s launch in January.

This week, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie enjoyed a preview of BioPower. Two BioPower vehicles were also on display as part of the Premier’s Community Cabinet in Toowoomba on Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th December.

Saab Australia Director, Parveen Batish, says with BioPower coming to Australia, Saab can help overcome the ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma of supply and demand when trying to bring a new fuel to market.

“E85 fuel is not currently commercially available in Australia, but because BioPower is a flex-fuel car drivers can fill up with petrol until ethanol fuel is available,” Mr Batish said.

“With this flexibility, we believe Saab can play a role in helping the community take the next step and consider the introduction of ethanol as an alternative, renewable fuel for consumers.”

i.saab.2006.biopower.batish.beattie.06dec.jpg
Parveen Batish assesses Qld Premier Beattie’s driving posture. Beattie’s smiling because he just broke wind.

The acceptance of the vehicle into a government trial is good news. This gives the whole exercise some instant credibility. Queensland is prime E85 country, being the home of Australia’s sugarcane industry. After getting rather badly screwed in the Free Trade Agreement we did with the US a few years ago, I’m sure the industry would be open to some more interest in E85.

Whilst progress is great, and I’m all for more power and torque (oh, and less emissions too), let’s remain mindful of the fact that there’s some dedicated Saab dealers out there who are crying out for some products that they can sell – now. Whilst E85’s a good prospect for the future in Australia, it’s barely a blip on any consumer’s radar right now.

Hopefully the upgraded engines in the 9-3 range and the addition of diesel will give them some reasons to smile as widely as Parveen in 2007.

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Thanks to Turbin for the heads-up

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6 Comments

  1. So, Psycho Dave, you reckon Saab should then not ponder bringing biopowered 9-3 en 9-5’s to downunder? Or are you saying those in Sweden and the UK driving these vehicles have been smoking something different to the ethos of Saab? Come Dave, even if E85 has 15% petrol in it, it is a step in the right direction in terms of responsibility towards the environment we have messed up badly over the past 30 years since the 1973 oil crisis, don’t you think?

  2. Danni Haakuria did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? I was just saying that there still is some petrol in E85 since if you read Book’s comment it is easy to beleive that all CO2 from E85 is zero net emissions. I think that BioPower is great and that Saab should stop manufactur regular petrol Saabs and only sell BioPower since they run just as god on regular petrol as a normal petrol Saabs.

  3. And when you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, using Sweden as an example, some of their ethanol is shipped-in from Brazil. Something has to power those huge tanker ships, and it’s not ethanol, I’ll tell you that much…

  4. So far Ireland looks like the best example as a case of self sufficiency for E85. All the grass that feeds the cows is grown in Ireland, the cow’s milk is bought by and Irish company called Carbery, who use the milk for various dairy products and ethanol is produced from the waste Lactose, which is distilled into E100. Another Irish owned company called Maxol adds the 15% Petrol and distributes the fuel through the country. The government offers a 50 per cent Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) rebate on all Bio-ethanol powered cars and a reduction of duty on the fuel itself. Ok the car still gives off almost the same CO2, but by closing the CO2 circle i.e. car makes CO2, Grass grows on CO2, Cows eat the grass, Carbery/Maxol make the Fuel, cars burns the fuel and so on, bio-ethanol DOES lead to a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions. For me anyway a 70% is a hell of a big step so Now world wake up, we dress green, our country is 40 shades of green and now we are trying to drive green with an Irish made, Irish owned product.

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