Saab’s successful BioPower concept - delivering increased performance as well as reduced fossil CO2 emissions - is to be introduced throughout the 9-3 range, including Sport Sedan, SportCombi and Convertible bodystyles. This expansion will reinforce Saab’s leadership of Europe’s emerging flex-fuel segment, where the Swedish premium brand will now offer ‘eco-friendly’ variants of all its core models.
The Saab 9-5 BioPower is already established as Europe’s best selling flex-fuel vehicle and the addition of BioPower to the 9-3 range will significantly broaden customer choice. For example, the 9-3 BioPower Convertible becomes the only premium soft-top on the market to offer open-top motoring with eco-friendly performance.
"The success of the 9-5 BioPower has encouraged us to extend this concept to the 9-3 range,” says Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile’s Managing Director. “This means we can now offer BioPower variants throughout our core product line-up.”
Saab 9-3 BioPower models, in Linear and Vector specification with manual or automatic transmission, go on sale with immediate effect in Nordic markets, the UK and Ireland. Sales in other European markets will commence later this year.
By using turbocharging, Saab BioPower is the only flex-fuel technology on the market that offers the enjoyment of ‘greener’ motoring, together with more engine power and performance.
Running on E85 fuel (85% bioethanol/15% gasoline), the new 9-3 BioPower 1.8t engine delivers 17% more maximum power (175 hp/129 kW v 150 hp/111 kW) and 10% more torque (265 v 240 Nm). In the 9-3 Sport Sedan, that translates to projected zero to 100 kph acceleration in 8.4 sec and 80 to 120 kph in fifth gear in 13.9 sec, compared to 9.5 sec and 15.0 sec, respectively, on gasoline.
E85 has a higher octane rating (104 RON) than gasoline (95 RON), and turbocharging with Saab BioPower allows the use of a higher boost pressure and more advanced ignition timing than is possible with gasoline. This gives more engine power, without risk of harmful ’knocking’ or pre-detonation. In contrast, a naturally-aspirated flex-fuel engine has only a fixed compression ratio and cannot realize the true performance potential of bioethanol fuel.
Saab’s 32-bit Trionic 8 engine management system controls the throttle setting, ignition timing, fuel injection, air mass and turbo boost pressure. It is a powerful platform that has facilitated software re-programming to accommodate the different ignition timing and fuel/air mixture requirements of E85. The only hardware modifications necessary to the all-aluminum Saab 9-3 engine are the fitment of more durable valves and valve seats. Bioethanol-compatible materials are also used in the fuel system, including the tank, pump, lines and connectors.
Trionic monitors fuel quality after every visit to the filling station and automatically makes any adjustments necessary for running on E85 and/or gasoline in any combination. That means Saab BioPower drivers can also use gasoline, should E85 not be available.
Bioethanol fuel is produced from a wide range of agricultural crops and biomass. Unlike gasoline, its consumption does not raise atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main ’greenhouse’ gas that contributes to climate change.
This is because emissions during driving are balanced by the amount of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere when crops for conversion are grown. Bioethanol is sold in Sweden, and a growing number of other European markets, as E85 fuel.
The extension of BioPower demonstrates Saab’s commitment to exploiting the potential of bioethanol as a sustainable and renewable fuel for road transport. And the commercial success of Saab’s current 9-5 BioPower models - now available with 2.3-liter and 2.0-liter turbo engines - also demonstrates its attraction in providing enhanced performance, together with greater environmental responsibility.
The EU is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and a directive currently requires member states to ensure bio-fuels account for an increasing proportion of energy needs in the road transport sector, with a target of 5.75 per cent by 2010. A further directive on energy taxation also calls on member states to apply reduced taxation, or a complete exemption, for bio-fuels in pure or low blends.
In Sweden, where the Saab 9-5 BioPower is the top selling environmentally-friendly vehicle, a growing network of more than 650 E85 fuel pumps is already established and a total of 800 pumps, covering 25% of the country’s filling stations, is targeted by the end of 2008.
Other European countries are now following Sweden’s lead. E85 has already entered the market in Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium, with other countries expected to follow. And in France, the government has targeted the establishment of 500 pumps this year throughout the country. With increasing E85 availability in the United States, bioethanol is now established as the world’s fastest growing alternative fuel.
Jan Åke Jonsson concludes: “We believe Saab BioPower represents an attractive and practical step forward in helping to meet the environmental challenges that now confront us. Saab is delighted to be leading growth in the flex-fuel segment and we are committed to giving our customers the opportunity to enjoy greener motoring. We look forward to the substantial development of distribution infrastructures in Europe that will extend this opportunity to more drivers.”