Team Ethanol finishing today

It’s Saturday here in Oz and Team Ethanol will be finishing their run in the World Solar Challenge in Adelaide.

Their Saab BioPower has been running on regular ULP for the last few days. This was planned so that they could get some good comparative fuel economy ratings as well as some emissions data.

They did an emissions test a couple of days ago. By that time they had been running on E85 for a few days straight, so the readings should be reliable. They haven’t posted any of that data yet, but they did say that it was very encouraging. The engineer on the team was actually very excited about it, saying that the software running this engine must be very, very good.

This isn’t the first time TE have done this. They ran an old 1925 Austin on pure ethanol (1,000 litres of it) back in 2005. I’m sure they’re appreciating the creature comforts of the Saab 9-5!

Preliminary fuel consumption figures show them using 8.6 litres of ULP per 100 kilometers as opposed to 10.4 litres of E85. The car is fully loaded with bags, supplies and people, so those figures are pretty respectable, and the real-world difference between the two fuels is less than expected.

Their blog is here.

Their team website is here.

Their Flickr account, with a lot of beer, is here.

As soon as they release some more detailed data about the performance of the car during the trip, you can be sure I’ll let you know.

Saab BioPower Coober Pedy

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  1. That’s only a 20% difference.

    27mpg (UK) for ethanol, fully loaded and going by the blog, driving at normal speeds with air con on as well. Sounds promising.

    Could there be a bit of gamesmanship going on with Saab’s ethanol figures? They lead you to believe it will give you 30% poorer mpg and when you do get to use E85 it turns out a little better.

  2. I would find it hard to believe that Saab would purposely overestimate the fuel economy penalty of running on E85 in their BioPower cars just so they can pleasantly surprise any buyers who ignored the penalty.

    As you know, fuel economy can vary from car to car, even those of the identical same model, and also depending on driving conditions. If you drive non-stop at 53 miles-per-hour on a flat road you’re going to have much better fuel economy than the typical real-world conditions. I don’t think the Solar Challenge is indicative of what the average BioPower car will average as far as fuel economy is concerned.

    The preliminary mileage works out to be 27.35 miles per U.S. gallon on regular unleaded (that’s 32.84 miles per Imperial gallon), and 22.61 miles per U.S. gallon on E85 (or 27.16 miles per Imperial gallon). I’m no mathematician, but I think that’s only a difference of 17.33%, isn’t it? That’s almost half of the 30% “hit” Saab estimates on E85.

    Something strange seems to be going on, so maybe we should wait for the final numbers to figure out what’s going on. Is there any major difference in the terrain or weather between the leg run on E85 and the leg run on regular unleaded?

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