A few days ago I asked for some info and people’s thoughts on the the suggestion that Saab make their entire range of gasoline engines BioPower compatible. The big question was whether or not the modified parts used in the BioPower models justify the extra $1,000 to $1,500 they charge for the BioPower vehicles.
Unfortunately, we’re no closer to knowing the exact extra cost of the modified parts – BUT – I do have a bit more insight into the situation thanks to the comments left on the post and some info that came to me via someone in a position to know.
It seems the premium is indeed charged to cover not only the addition cost of the modified parts, but also to recoup some of the R&D costs that go into making a system like BioPower bullet-proof for a consumer market.
I can understand this, but I still maintain that Saab should consider going all BioPower at a modified price. It’s less of an engineering thing, but more of a marketing thing, although that may put me at odds with Saab USA.
A modest price rise on both the 9-3 and 9-5 BioPower vehicles, something in the order of around $400 per vehicle, should not be a dealbreaker for those people that are shopping for a car in this class. Assuming that the additional cost of the modified parts is as small as believed, making all the gasoline 9-3s and 9-5s BioPower compatible across this number of vehicles would yield a greater return to cover the R&D costs due to the greater sales volume.
In addition, a larger number of BioPower cars means you start to build some economies of scale and those modified parts should actually get cheaper.
One interesting question for the naysayers on this issue: GM has been making flexfuel vehicles in the US, mostly in the truck line, for years in order to fit in with total fleet emissions regulations. I’d venture to guess that a lot of people in the US own flexfuel vehicles and don’t even know it. There’s a lot of modified equipment on the Saab BioPower vehicles, even things like wiring harnesses are different to cope with block heaters to assist with cold-weather starting.
The question: do all the GM flexfuel vehicles in the US come with these full modifications, or did they figure that only a fraction of people would run them on E85 and therefore skimp on some of them?
If they’ve been doing things the right way all along then it shouldn’t be a big deal to do this across the Saab range.
Saab USA are right into their ‘Born From Jets’ thing and all indications are that that’s not going to change anytime soon. I’m more of a ‘Move Your Mind’ man myself, and the prospect of going all BioPower, whilst not as cool as jets, has a lot of Saab substance to it.
Remember “Form follows Function”?
Going all BioPower means that Saab could establish their environmental credentials right at the beginning of the alternative fuels movement. Is this important? Only if ethanol really does take off as a fuel, and with cellulosic ethanol being a real possibility in the near future, there’s a real possibility that it could. Saab’s establishing of credentials as an environmentally conscious company right now could prove to be as important as Toyota’s conception of a small reliable car right before women became more independant and cashed up. People without access to E85 aren’t inconvenienced as they can run it on regular gasoline with no problems.
Add to the environmental cred Saab’s impeccable record for safety and utility and you have some real elements of substance to promote about the brand.
Saab. All turbo. All green. All safe.
Move Your Mind.