Blog: Dave LeggettSaab press car

Dave Leggett | 18 July 2007

It’s not all that often that I get a press car and I don’t want to seem churlish. The nice PR people at GM have given me a Saab 9-3 ‘BioPower’ on loan for the week. Great. I can give this bio-ethanol fuel a good try, I thought. And reduce the old carbon footprint a little bit.

There’s also the added performance benefit that E85 delivers because it has a higher octane rating (104 RON) than regular unleaded (95 RON).

Just one slight snag that illustrates the ‘chicken and egg’ situation on refuelling where alternative fuels are concerned. The 9-3 was delivered with a full tank of regular unleaded and one of the first things I did was check to see where I can fill up with green stuff. Not easy. There aren’t very many E85 pumps available yet. I would have to make some pretty massive detours – burning more CO2 from the tank of unleaded in the process, even if I could find the time and excuse to do that.

Saab provides a map showing where the pumps are. Looks like you are well served if you live in East Anglia or Somerset, but there’s a big void in between.

Saab provides some helpful info on the whole subject at a dedicated website. I guess the hope has to be that more ethanol outlets will emerge.

Saab is the biggest seller of flex-fuel cars in Europe. In Sweden, 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.

Fuel from plants is probably a good thing for Saab to be associated with though. It wasn’t so long ago that Saab lacked a strong image beyond ‘quirky’.

The real prize more generally though is developing so-called second generation biomass that can be produced from waste organic materials, rather than turning over vast swathes of good agricultural land to crops for ethanol for cars. And that’s not very far away, I understand.

Returning to the ‘chicken and egg’ situation with the press car I’m driving, it wouldn’t be quite so bad if it weren’t for the rather prominent ‘Saab BioPower’ statement on the sides of the car. It’s essentially a mobile advertising board. Must admit though, I do quite like the irony that I’m actually just as dirty as everyone else, even if people are assuming I’m some sort of liberal tree-hugger type with a penchant for the big statement. Perhaps I should further compensate by smoking fat cigars and driving like a madman, while also discharging litter on to the highway, too. That is a joke, by the way.

BioPower Saab


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