|Saab 9-5 Aero BioPower Concept|
Saab unveiled a 310-horsepower 9-5 Aero BioPower Concept midsize wagon at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The flex-fuel vehicle, capable of running on gasoline or ethanol blends of up to 85% (E85) is a more powerful version than its European cousin. (Earlier post.)
The 2.3-liter turbocharged engine of the 9-5 Aero BioPower Concept delivers almost 20% more maximum power—310 hp (231 kW) vs. 260 hp (193 kW)—25% more torque—440 Nm vs. 350 Nm—than its gasoline equivalent.
This results in 0-to-60 mph acceleration in less than 6 seconds, compared to 6.9 seconds with gasoline. GM has not yet released fuel consumption figures on the vehicle.
Although ethanol has lower energy content than gasoline (resulting in higher fuel consumption), E85 has a much higher octane rating (104 RON), allowing the engine’s ignition timing to be advanced for more power without risk of knock.
Saab’s Trionic engine management system adapts to different ignition and fuel/air mixture requirements. The only hardware modifications needed for BioPower are more durable valves and valve seats and the use of ethanol-compatible materials in the fuel system, including the tank, pump, lines and connectors.
The Trionic system monitors fuel quality after every fill-up and automatically makes any adjustments necessary for running on E85 and/or gasoline in any combination.
Saab has found that turbocharged engines are particularly well-suited to exploiting the benefits of ethanol, allowing the possibility of introducing higher compression ratios for optimum power and efficiency, while also encouraging powertrain downsizing.
We are delighted to be taking a lead in the development of BioPower, which expresses many of the traditional values of the Saab brand. We are convinced alcohol fuels like ethanol can provide an effective short- to mid-term solution in our search for sustainable alternatives to fossil-based fuels for road transport.
It is compatible with conventional gasoline engines and can be supplied through the existing fuel infrastructure, without the need for any major new investment. A transition toward ethanol can run in parallel with the development of other, longer-term energy solutions, which could also include ethanol as an energy-carrier for the introduction of fuel cell technology.—Jan-Åke Jonsson, managing director, Saab Automobile