Powered by fuel from plants and vegetables, the Saab 9-5 biopower shows that sacrificing vehicle quality to ensure an eco-friendly status is not a necessity, finds Adrian Ion
This review will not start with a description of the attractive features, fantastic technology, innovative design or superior ride of this motor vehicle, but instead will kick off with a summary of its fuel.
Bioethanol is made from agricultural products such as corn. This is an alcohol-based substance that is mixed with regular gasoline to form a fuel formed of up to 85 per cent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The advantage of this fuel is that its emissions are up to 70 per cent lower than a typical gasoline engine, but without a compromise in safety or performance.
The car powered by green energy is the Saab 9-5 BioPower, developed by General Motors as an answer to other eco-friendly cars, such as the Toyota Prius.
Saab’s home country, Sweden, is attempting to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by the year 2020. With the development of this car, it has taken an important step in the acceptance of alternative fuels in Europe. Considering the sales of this model in Sweden have exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts, it seems the market responds enthusiastically to this green alternative.
On the outside, the Saab 9-5 BioPower resembles a normal Saab 9-5. The engine however is a turbocharged two-litre with some major differences from its standard-fuel counterparts. Saab was able to increase the standard vehicle’s boost. As a result the engine clocks up 180 horsepower compared to the 150 horsepower of the 9-5. This extra power allows the speed of the Saab 9-5 BioPower to be 1.3 seconds faster than the standard car.
Of course, this begs the question that, if bioethanol fuel is so much better for the environment and offers increased performance, then why are more cars not using it?
The answer may lie in the fact that bioethanol fuels gives higher consumption. The fuel is estimated to offer a lower mileage of 20 to 30 per cent compared to gasoline. Also, in order to accommodate this fuel, which is more corrosive than gasoline, Saab has to transform and increase the durability of some engine components.
Still Saab is leading the way in the pioneering of this alternative fuel system. It remains a matter of political will and society’s lobbying power to widely introduce the system on a large scale to make use of these technological breakthroughs. In Romania, drivers of this vehicle will find it hard to chance upon a petrol station that will serve up bioethanol, so will have to pump in eco-unfriendly gasoline.
Changing the public’s thinking about what they put in their tank will not be easy – but with lower biofuel prices effectively cancelling out poorer fuel mileage and turbo-charging contributing a significant power increase, the Saab 9-5 BioPower is becoming a valid option for any consumer, regardless of whether or not they could care less about the environment.