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Saab Unveils E100 Hybrid

Under the skin of the Biopower Hybrid.

At the Stockholm Motor Show, GM’s Saab brand premiered its promised 9-3 hybrid concept car that can run on 100% ethanol (E100) with combined cycle fuel consumption of about 30 mpg US. The car is also the world’s first hybrid soft-top.

It also represents a different approach to a hybrid drive than taken in GM’s current three announced production hybrid systems: the two-mode hybrid in full-size SUVs, the mild hybrid in the Saturn VUE and the micro-hybrid in the Silverado and Sierra.

Combining a 260 hp (191 kW) 2.0-litre turbo BioPower engine and two electric motors totalling 53 kW, the BioPower Hybrid Concept can briefly generate torque values three times greater than its gasoline-only equivalent.

The new modular hybrid system features a maintenance-free, 300-volt Li-ion battery pack designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle, a 38kW rear-mounted electric motor, a 15 kW integrated starter/generator (ISG) and all-wheel-drive with electric power transmission to the rear wheels.

The all-aluminum 2.0-liter BioPower engine is modified to run on pure E100 ethanol fuel, giving zero fossil CO2 exhaust emissions, and operates in tandem with the electrical power system. This system offers fuel-saving stop/start functionality, torque boosting electric power assistance on demand, an electric-only “Zero Mode” for city driving and regenerative braking.

Saab expects the BioPower Hybrid Concept prototype car to achieve 0 to 100 kph (0 to 62 mph) acceleration in just 6.9 seconds, a substantial improvement against 8.8 seconds for the equivalent gasoline model. Acceleration from 80 to 120 kph (50 to 75 mph) is in 5.5 seconds.

Hybrids are certainly interesting for Saab in the future and this project allows us to evaluate and explore the potential of hybrid technology in combination with our existing and already-proven BioPower technology. Although the exact hybrid application shown in this concept does not currently figure in our production plans, the project has been extremely valuable in helping us further our expertise. It shows how we could develop the sporty performance associated with Saab while using only renewable resources and saving energy overall.

—Jan Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile’s Managing Director

The Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept is the first project to be announced under a joint investment program between General Motors R&D (Research and Development) and the Swedish Government. This has seen the establishment of a research and development office in Trollhättan, Sweden, focusing on vehicle safety, engine emissions and advanced manufacturing in collaboration with Swedish universities, research laboratories and suppliers.

Engine. The Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept engine is an enhancement of the current all-aluminum, 16-valve 2.0-liter turbo engine in the Saab 9-3 range. In the hybrid, the engine develops 260 hp and 375 Nm maximum torque, 24% and 25% more respectively than on gasoline.

The Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept retains a flex-fuel capability and features a Spark Ignited Direct Injection (SIDI) system for optimum combustion with E100; ensuring the same cold starting performance as a normal gasoline engine. Variable inlet and exhaust cam phasing is used for optimum breathing and more durable valves and valve seats are fitted, together with ethanol-compatible materials for the fuel system.

ISG. The compact 42-Volt ISG, built into the flywheel between the engine and transmission, provides the stop/start functionality, and also functions as a 15 kW engine power booster, working with the 38 kW motor on the rear axle. Auxiliary functions, such as the water pump, air conditioning and power steering systems, are now removed from the engine’s belt drive and electrically powered instead, further reducing fuel consumption.

Transmission. The five-speed automatic transmission, with Saab Sentronic sequential selection, includes an all-wheel-drive capability by the simultaneous addition of electrically powered drive to the rear wheels.

Hybrid booster. The Biopower Hybrid uses a parallel hybrid system configuration. Apart from converters to manage AC/DC and 12,42 and 300-volt interfaces, the system consists of just three core components: two electric motors and a battery bank.

A 42-cell, 300-volt lithium-ion battery bank provides energy storage. An electronic control unit monitors and governs its performance, and manages the current flow. This power pack is seated under the floor of the trunk, without taking up any stowage space, as demonstrated in the Stockholm show car.

The rear-wheel electric motor assembly

The battery powers a compact 38 kW electric motor located between the rear wheels which powers a transmission differential and drive shafts. At low speeds, this Rear Drive Unit (RDU) is able to briefly generate 666 Nm of additional torque.

In reverse operation, the motor acts as a generator to provide regenerative braking. It also performs the same function whenever the driver lifts off the throttle, harnessing the energy in the rotating drive shafts. This is achieved without any perceptible change in the rate of deceleration.

The second electric motor is the integrated starter generator (ISG) located within the flywheel between the engine and main transmission. On demand, it contributes 15 kW of additional power and 120 Nm of extra torque to the output of the engine through the front wheels.

Operating Modes. Under transient driving conditions, both electric motors are activated to augment the power of the engine, increasing standing start acceleration and in-gear performance for safe overtaking. This briefly raises total power by as much as 28%.

At take off, the Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept also exploits the instant torque generation of its electric motors, smoothly adding strong, accelerative power during the engine’s pick-up, from tick-over to about 1,500 rpm. It is during this phase that the available pulling power, or torque, is more than tripled.

An estimated fuel of saving of 5-7% is provided by the automatic engine stop/start function. Whenever the vehicle is stationary, the engine is immediately shut-off to save fuel. As soon as the brake is released, it is automatically started again by the powerful ISG. The operation is carried out seamlessly and requires no input from the driver.

In congested driving conditions, the Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept uses an all-electric Zero Mode (Zero fuel consumption, Zero emissions)—which can be selected by the driver via a button in the central console.

At speeds below 50 kph (31 mph), Zero Mode will shut off the engine and again switch the car over to electric power only through the RDU. In this mode, the battery bank provides a range of between 10 and 20 kilometers (6 to 12 miles). The engine is smoothly re-engaged whenever the battery status approaches a low charge level or the electronic throttle opening requires acceleration beyond the 50 kph operating limit.

Whenever the engine is shut down, all auxiliary functions, such as the power steering, air conditioning and lighting, remain unaffected because they are now permanently electrically-powered through the battery. The removal of unnecessary loadings on the engine further contributes to fuel economy and in mixed driving the estimated range of Saab 9-3 BioPower Hybrid Concept test vehicles, with a standard 62 liter tank, is a competitive 800 kms—7.75 liters/100km, or 30 mpg (on ethanol).



This seems to me to be a very similar approach as the Lexus GS-whatever-whatever-h hybrid coupe to strike a middle ground between performance and efficiency (albeit significantly cheaper, so as to appeal to a totally different audience). The flex-fuel option is nice, especially considering I have one nearby (I know that's not that common, so that's not gonna do the entire nation much good, but at least it's net CO2 contribution is near zero when running off the E100 it's designed for). I'm by no means fond of convertibles, but one cannot deny the market for ragtops, and if this is the only hybrid ragtop their is, you can't discount the possibility of tapping a previously untouched hybrid market. Barring things like the Volkswagen Cabrio, this is about as efficient as convertibles get, and this is quite the performer as well, so I say hats off to them for giving another performance minded vehicle market a viable, efficient alternative.

Joseph Willemssen

"Listen everyone that are thinking that most electricity comes from plants burning coal. That might be true for you americans, but aren't most car models for every market in the world? I am very excited of PHEV since here almost all electricity are not from burning coal or oil."

60-70% of electricity supply in OECD countries comes from burning fossil fuels.

Sweden is an anomaly because of abundant hydro resources, not unlike the Pacific Northwest of the US. It's also a very small portion of world energy use. One should be more concerned about growth areas in Asia and they're very heavy reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal.

Joseph Willemssen

"However, in Arizona where 67 percent of power plants are coal-fired, a study concluded that electric vehicles would reduce greenhouse gases such as CO2 by 71 percent. Likewise, a study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that electric vehicles in the Northeast would reduce... CO2 by as much as
60 percent.

The above is not a pure coal scenario, but it shows that PHEVs, when running on electric would be an improvement. What the numbers would be for pure coal , I don't know, but with a reasonably high proportion of coal, it still comes out on top compared to a purely gasoline powered vehicle."

Let's run the numbers using a Prius. Fuel economy is 55 mpg and it uses 0.25 kWh/mile in all-electric mode (which is low speed, so this model is favorable towards the plug-in).

Gasoline puts out 19.564 pounds of CO2 per gallon, while coal puts out about 210 pounds per million BTU (depending on the type of coal).

Let's assume electricity generated with 100% coal and conversion losses of an industry average of 69%.

Electricity has 3,412 BTU/kWh.

So, take an average year of driving (15,000 miles) and see how the numbers come out.

With gasoline, that will put out 5,336 pounds of CO2. For electricity, that will put out 2,687 pounds of CO2, or around 50% that of gasoline.

So, under those assumptions, CO2 output for PHEVs is favorable, but not to the extent claimed by those studies. Keep in mind that the energy assumptions of this model were favorable to the plug-in, but that the 100% coal assumption itself is unrealistic as well.

The other thing that needs to be considered at scale (assuming the technology were widespread) is how much additional capacity would need to be added to the grid to adjust to the new peak demand levels.

And again, there's other emissions besides CO2 to consider. Ask the fishermen in my state what they think about coal.


And again, there's other emissions besides CO2 to consider

Especially given the reality of the matter, which is that >90% of coal power plant emissions (including Hg and other heavy metals) come from <50% of the actual plants. These were supposed to have been upgraded to modern standards years ago, but the owners have preferred to buy off congressmen and stall in court than undergo New Source Review.


People, don’t you tired of global warming scum?

Wake up! See, for example,

before waste your time on CO2 emission discussion.

A. Levin

Joseph Willemssen

Wake up! See, for example,

"The PR contact is listed as Sheila Roy of APCO Worldwide Canada, who have been involved in climate change denial since at latest 2002.

In email correspondence in November 2005 Albert Jacobs from FoS indicated that Roy was hired on a one off basis though APCO are occasionally hired to 'do specific jobs for us under incidental contracts, as the need arises.'

The domain is registered to Charles Simpson, a 'retired oil industry employee'."


Thanx for keepin it real wonks. Saab(GM) order up a bunch of them RDU things...I'd bet you'd sell em.


Minnesota, home to many Swedes and producer of much corn, has over 130 E-85 pumps scattered across the state, with more opening each year.

As to E-100, why not make it in your still?


Joseph Willemssen said:
"The other thing that needs to be considered at scale (assuming the technology were widespread) is how much additional capacity would need to be added to the grid to adjust to the new peak demand levels."

You have to think about when people will plug in their vehicles. At night. There is enough extra capacity in the US right now to power one half of the cars on the road if powered up at night.

Joseph Willemssen

"You have to think about when people will plug in their vehicles. At night. There is enough extra capacity in the US right now to power one half of the cars on the road if powered up at night."

Source of that estimate?


Saab needs to get back to its roots. I want a jet-car! (hybrid of course)

Tom R

The 9-3 Hybrid realy is a plugin. Go to and find out more.

P.s. Here in Sweden electricity is generated from windmills, river-turbine energy and neuclear energy. Coal is a big no no. D.s.

Stan Peterson

I am from Arizona and I worked in the "Power Generation" industry. I don't know where that ahem "gentlemen" got his 67% coal power figure for Arizona, from perhaps his cloacal cavity?

Arizona has one of the least polluting profiles of anyplace in the world, as the largest nuclear power station in the world exists just outside Phoenix and produces over 3000 megawatts of base load. In addition, the entire string of hydro damns including the massive generators of the Hoover damn as well the Lake Powell and Lake Mohave and Lake Havasu damns provide lots of clean hydro from the Colorado River. That does not even include the State hydro from Lake Roosevelt, Apache lake, Canyon Lake and Suharo Lake on the Salt River watershed or the damns on the Verde river watershed principally Bartlett reservoir and Horseshoe.

As far as criticism of New Source Review, the coal slurry pipeline feeding one of the Navaho power stations has just closed along with the coal plant. There are a few old coal stations used for peaking in Tucson & Phoenix and a bunch of gas turbine peakers with expensive gas making them unprofitable, sitting rusting in the sun alongside the hundreds of Wind "tax creations" whose subsidies have expired. They were never even remotely profitable. Manny never ran for more than a day fro acceptance after completion; the tax subsidies covered construction but not operation.

In short he has his clean power figures very thoroughly wrong. It more like 80% non fossil, and what fossil capacity there is is mainly used very intermittantly for "peaking power."

PHEVs couldn't go to an environment more able to substitute clean electricity for oil transportation uses. Not that Arizona needs to substitute as nowhere in AZ has the clean air standards not been met in over three years. There is a "brown cloud" occasionally seen in Phoenix, but that is the result of several millions people walking, runbning, jogging, and driving around in what is still a desert and stirring up the dust. The few times we have exceeded the EPA's particularate standards it has been not man-made but something called a "sand storm". These are a natural phenomenon of desert environments, even if the EPA doesn't always seem to know that.

BTW, the Palo Verdee nuke station has just applied for a combined Construction & Operation license to build two more nukes. These likely being Westinghouse Gen III+ AP 1000s with an additional capacity of about 2500 Megawatts. These are the #15 & #16 COLs requested nationwide, so the nukes are ramping up for return; these two will undoubtedly be base load plants, allow for growrth, and lead to the scrapping of several old municiapal, coal based peaking plants cleaning the environment even more. (BTW, Why is it that government owned generation is most always the dirtiest? Yet environmentalists seem to bray for government control, all the time.)


IN case your link did not work to the site here is my source:

I've been persisiting with the story about the Saab Biopower hybrid being hushed up as a plug-in hybrid for exactly this reason. One day the whole GM plug-in thing was going to come back.....

Autoblog Green have a story out today that GM may be setting up to unveil a plug-in hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2007. This is a leak only and there's no word as to which GM brand will 'debut' the technology, but it's said that production of the vehicle is around a year away.

They cite the timing as being rather convenient as there's a movie coming out in a week's time dealing with the death of GM's Ev1 electric car.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the back-story here, Saab (owned by GM) unveiled a Biopower Hybrid concept car back in March at the Stockholm Motor Show. The technology was housed in a Saab 9-3 Convertible to show its compactness and by combining Saab's E100 Biopower engine with two electric motors, it was claimed to produce zero fossile fuel emissions.

This was a great new concept, no doubt. What Saab were stopped from telling everyone, allegedly by head honchos at GM, was that it was even better than announced. Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, discovered that Saab were told to change their press releases at the last minute.

The Biopower hybrid concept car was, in fact, a plug-in hybrid car. The plug was apparently behind the badge on the trunk, which was glued up for the Stockholm show.

The "Smoking Gun" press release, with info about the plug-in capability, is here.

If GM are going to unveil a plug-in hybrid in Detroit, then all well and good. I just hope that it's in a Saab as the brand deserves the recognition for the work done, and could certainly use the positive publicity as it's well underappreciated in the US.
Posted by Swade at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


I think the car is a step in the right direction for all of us stupid horsepower mongering americans. The Toyota hybrid takes 11 seconds to get to 60! Its very hard to merge on the freeway with all the agressive drivers here. Many people say this car is nothing new, but i am not so sharp on the subject. i thought e100 is very good for the environment, true we have no way to put it in our cars over here but is it not a perfect alternative to gasoline? We just need it availible. I dont care for a bunch of horse power, ive had fast cars, all i do is get into trouble. I think we all need compound interests. First control what you can, and keep making bigger steps, if i pollutes get rid of it. If its a waste, make it efficient. If no one wants to change because they make too much money, boycott them, make it illegal, sign pettions, dont work for them. We need to do something now, american cars have almost never been practical whatsoever, wasting money on looks and performance before functionality and economy and the environment. Please everyone come up with your ideal perfect efficient, available, functional, and environmental safe car, truck, suv, and semi-truck. and POST IT!!! If a company made a conversion kit for my older honda and i could buy e100 i would. i just cant find such a thing. I wish someone would.

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