QGX Launches Mongolian Coal-to-Liquids Initiative
DuPont to Produce New High-Performance Bio-Polymers for Automotive, Other Markets

Saab to Premier New 2.3t BioPower Engine in July

The E100 Biopower Hybrid will also appear at the British Motor Show in July.

GM’s Saab will introduce its new 210 hp 2.3t BioPower engine in the Saab 9-5 Saloon and Estate range at the British International Motor Show in London in July. The new 2.3t BioPower model promises 14% more maximum power and 11% more torque, while cutting fossil CO2 emissions by up to 70% when running on E85 than on gasoline. (Earlier post.)

The new Saab 9-5 2.3t BioPower model goes on sale in the UK, Ireland and Nordic markets later this year, with other European countries to follow. Available with manual or automatic transmission, it is being offered in addition to the current 2.0t BioPower model.

Running on E85, the new Saab 9-5 2.3t BioPower engine delivers maximum power of 210 hp (157 kW) and 229 lb-ft (310 Nm) of torque, compared to 185 hp (138 kW) and 207 lb-ft (280 Nm) when using gasoline. As an example of the increased performance, the sedan with manual transmission accelerates from zero to 100 kph (0-62 mph) in 7.9 secs and 80-120 kph (50-75 mph) in fifth gear in 11.0 secs, compared to 8.5 and 12.6 secs when running only on gasoline. (Figures are provisional, pending homologation.)

Saab is also bringing its E100 Saab 9-3 Convertible BioPower Hybrid Concept—unveiled earlier this year in Stockholm—to the British show. (Earlier post.)

This flex-fuel hybrid 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-liter turbo BioPower engine that can run on pure ethanol (E100) 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 hybrid offers an electric-only Zero Mode for city driving, and has been the subject of intense speculation over whether or not it has an as-yet unannounced plug-in hybrid capability. GM reportedly will introduce a plug-in concept at the Detroit International Auto Show in January 2007. (Earlier post.)

Saab is also bringing its Aero X Concept Car for a debut in London. The two-seater sports coupé runs on E100, and delivers 400 bp (298 kW) maximum power at 5,000 rpm and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque between 2,000 and 5,000 rpm. (Earlier post.)


Mark A

Let the GM bashing begin! (sarcasm)


I'd like to know more about the battery in it. A Li-on that will last the lifetime of the car? Does this have anything to do with Altair?

Rafael Seidl

It will be interesting to see if Detroit give Saab the go-ahead to produce the hybrid while it still has the potential to do something for GM's tarnished image.

So far, it's just a concept car. The pencil pushers already killed off the Opel Astra diesel hybrid. My guess is that they desperately want to hold off on full or even mild hybrids until their two-mode tranny is ready to ship in volume. With the UAW contract up for renegotiation next year, let's hope this technology strategy pays off for them. Otherwise, US taxpayers may end up footing the bill for half a million GM retirees' health care and part of their pensions.


I realize they are just using the convertible for the concept, but I think they underestimate the demand for such a vehicle in the 9-3 Sedan form. Even if they had to use a NIMH battery at first to keep costs down, it could be a huge seller. The 2.0 9-3 is a relatively good bargain in it's class. The hybrid equipment would only bring it up to the levels of the A4, and still be less than a 3-series. I think a lot of people like myself, who are in the market for cars like that, would strongly consider a hybrid 9-3 sedan...


I'm sure the poor engineers at Saab are beating their heads against the wall trying to make a good car, but GM will not let them. There was a rumor one of the Saab cars at a recent auto show was a plug in hybrid, but at the last moment they were told to hide it! At the time, it was thought perhaps GM wanted to announce it or another car at a different show. But no, nothing happened.
Mark A:
Daily GM bashing accomplished. To continue untill they atone for the EV-1 or go out of business.

Mark A

Thanks, jPadula


Here is my source from www.trollhattensaab.net/

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) "


More sources of the rumor I spread from trollhattensaab.net/ site

A few days ago, it was alleged by Robert Collin in Aftonbladet (Swedish newspaper) that GM had told Saab to cover up the fact that the 9-3 Convertible Hybrid Concept was, in fact, a plug-in hybrid. It was said that GM told Saab to glue shut the plug cover, located behind the badge at the rear of the car. It was also said that GM got Saab to re-write the press material so that the plug-in capability wasn't mentioned.

It seems Autoweb in Australia received the old press material and ran with it:

To optimise the availability of 'Zero Mode', a plug-in-feature is available which allows the battery bank to be connected to a mains electricity supply for additional charging in the garage. This would, for example, allow a driver commuting in heavy traffic to immediately resume in 'Zero Mode' the next morning after arriving home the previous evening having used up all its range. A neat socket is located behind the Saab badge on the 9-3 BioPower Hybrid Concept's trunk lid.

That paragraph is missing from the press release that I received and reproduced here.

So it seems that Saab, after taking a lead role in the development of this technology, was pushed into hushing this up. The question now is what car will the plug-in feature on? And what is GM's real attitude towards Saab being seen as an innovative, environmentally responsible and yet sporting brand within the GM portfolio?



It's a concept car, nothing else.


I'd love to see a GM with something of this nature. Except put it in a lower end model without all the luxury crap so the car is several hundred pounds lighter. Make the motor a 1.5L Turbo motor designed to run on E85 and you could easily pull ~160-170hp out of it on the higher octane fuel, and quite safely have a high compression ratio to maintain good "off-boost" fuel economy. It would be underpowered on gasoline though (the boost would be dropped down significantly to compensate for the higher compression ratio designed for use with ethanol). Put this in a 2400 to 2700lb vehicle and it would have quite good performance (acceleration).


They likely are putting it in a high end model because rich people will love it and be able to pay the price for the battery pack needed for a plug in that will last the cars life. Thats also why ford is looking at them.. lux suvs that can do the short hops on electric alone AND get around cafe to boot so they are PURELY about features and comfort and not about anything else.


The real story here is that Saab (GM) is introducing a production flex fuel car which seems to be optimized for ethanol, not gasoline. Notice that the engine produces 210 hp on ethanol and 185 on gasoline.

I'm guessing that they have increased the compression ratio on the engine to make use of ethanol's effectively higher octane number, and have a spark retarder or other anti-knock system to accomodate lower octane gasoline. The result is better use of ethanol than a similarly sized gasoline-optimized engine, but worse use of gasoline than a similarly sized gasoline-optimized engine.

The upshot is that an optimized engine can cut ethanol's volumetric mileage penalty. That is, a gallon of ethanol will go just about as far as a gallon of gasoline, notwithstanding ethanol's substantially lower energy density, if run through a properly optimized engine. On an energy basis, an ethanol optimized engine will get more miles per BTU than an engine optimized for (and running on) regular grade gasoline.

As I pointed out a while ago, there is a chicken-and-egg problem at work in the flex-fuel market. If every FFV were suddenly optimized for ethanol, then drivers would not need 25% more ethanol (by volume) than gasoline, as they do now. The volume of ethanol consumed under those circumstances would actually roughly equal the amount of gasoline consumed under the present circumstances. However, if all FFVs were optimized for ethanol, they would get worse mileage when running on gasoline.

Since, at the moment, most FFVs run on gasoline most of the time, it is necessary to optimize for gasoline in order to convince to the consumer to buy the FFV right now. Nobody would choose an FFV pickup truck at present if it meant that their mileage would go down substantially while running on gasoline and waiting for an E85 pump to be installed in their neighborhood.

That means having to live with ~25% worse mileage than theoretically possible when running on E85. The only way to convince the consumer to try E85 under such circumstances is to make sure it costs 25% less than gasoline. Which is difficult now that ethanol demand has shot up in the wake of MTBE's phase-out.

At any rate, this problem is what the tax-credit/subsidy was meant to solve (along with supporting the farm lobby, but I'll stick to the technically interesting reasons). If E85 could be sold cheaper than gasoline, demand for it would rise, leading to increased production and, equally important, increased distribution infrastructure.

With a critical mass of E85 pumps in a large enough region, automakers could risk selling ethanol optimized (as opposed to gasoline optimized) FFVs in that area, secure in the knowledge that consumers would not turn them down for fear of getting worse mileage on the fuel they use on a daily basis. Ethanol's price could then eventually rise to a level approaching that of gasoline, but consumers would be no worse off because their ethanol-optimized vehicles would get MPG figures that were similar to their old gasoline optimized cars.

As many people point out in this forum, turning food into fuel is not a long-term or infinitely extendable solution. There is only so much corn we can grow, and there are many other important uses for it. It appears as if any long-term plans built around widespread ethanol useage would rely on the prospect of a major increase in supply enabled by cellulostic technologies.

All this may be for very little show if other popular alternatives, such as algae-biodiesel or bio-butanol, become viable and widespread. Those apparently behave a lot more like their fossil counterparts, and would optimize along different lines. However, it remains to be seen if or when efficient, cheap and renewable production pathways can successfully be brought to market for those fuels.

Ethanol, for the moment, has the advantage of having at least one relatively workable commercial production pathway already in widespread use -- fermentation and distillation from sugar/starch crops, with sugarcane being the most efficient feedstock. Business-oriented readers will instantly recognize the advantages of working with an established, predictable production system and commodity.

Personally, I think that a fuel tax/credit formula should be implemented across all fuels which prices in as many of the externalities (both good and bad) of each fuel that can be reasonably estimated. Higher taxes for fuels that release more fossil CO2 into the atmosphere and lower taxes (or even a refundable credit) for those that release less or none. Higher taxes for fuels which release more toxic pollutants (smog-forming and health-problem inducing ones such as SOx, NOx, PM, etc.) and lower taxes for those which release less. Price in the cost of foreign entanglements and wars, balance of trade effects, costs associated with fighting terrorists whom we have funded(to the extent that Saudi and Iranian oil revenues subsidize Islamic radicals and international instability), whatever you want. Price in the cost of roads too, which was traditionally about the only thing priced into the gas tax.

This may require a fair amount of specificity. We should probably discriminate between different production processes which result in the same end product. Corn-derived ethanol would be less advantageous if it requires the use of more fossil inputs than sugarcane-derived ethanol. However, we might also discriminate between different products, even if made from substantially the same inputs and production processes. For instance, if one liquid emits more tailpipe pollution than another liquid created from the same ultimate source, it should be taxed more heavily due to public health costs associated with increased urban emissions.

An outcome-specific tax formula would be more effective in acheiving the goals we set out for ourselves, rather than a product-specific formula. However, it would likely be more complex and changeable, as rates are adjusted to reflect the differing externalities that are created by constantly shifting and evolving production processes. A predictable mechanism for reviewing and changing rates, with a predictable schedule on which reviews would be conducted, and perhaps even boundaries set on the magnitude of any periodic adjustment, would be needed. If the underlying formula remains constant, than the results of any periodic calculation should at least be predictable. I'm open to discussion regarding the level of tradeoff between predictable rates and a flexible ability to account for the changing impacts of our actions.


I believe it is more likely that they simply raise the boost pressure when ethanol is present as opposed to having a higher static compression ratio.

Now if they had a direct gasoline injection turbo engine with separate port injectors for E85-E100 they could have the high compression ratio and boost at the same time and the engine would be somewhere in the middle of the road as far as optimization for either gasoline or ethanol.

Now SAAB's nifty engine which could change it's static compression ratio would truly be a flex fuel engine. On gasoline it could configure itself for 10:1 or so and on ethanol it could configure itself for a higher CR (whatever is suitable for ethanol...probably in the 12:1 range). I don't think they have plans to put that engine into production though.

allen zheng

Speaking of cars, DaimlerChrysler has anouncd the introduction of their Smart car in the US.

allen zheng

Speaking of cars, DaimlerChrysler has anouncd the introduction of their Smart car in the US.

Roger Pham

To make the simplest variable-compression engine, use simulated Atkinson-cycle engine with continously-variable valve timing (CVVT), with high geometric compression ratio. For gasoline, delay closure of intake valve to well after BDC of the intake stroke, hence lower effective compression ratio. For ethanol, close intake valve earlier, right at BDC or after, depending on engine speed.
An ideal Plugged-in hybrid that is cost-effective should not have turbo-charger nor a regular transmission that are both complicated, costly and less reliable. A simulated Atkinson-cycle engine coupled to a simple and highly-reliable electric transmission (generator-motor arrangement, also referred to as serial hybrid) is all that's needed. The larger battery pack can provide boost to a smaller engine, for optimal cruise efficiency. To avoid electrical pathway loss at cruise, a torque lock-up between the engine and traction motor can be engaged after acceleration is completed. We thus now have a most-simple serial-parallel hybrid configuration. To simulate lower gear down-shifting during cruise, either the battery can provide boost to the motor, or the engine can be mechanically disengaged from the motor, and revved up to provide more torque to the motor.

Make this car as I've proposed in large number and price it affordably, and GM will have greatly elevated its environmental image.


I am talking about the changeable *Static* CR engine SAAB developed, prototyped and tested. They actually paired it with a supercharger though (I believe it would run a static CR of around 10.5 to 1 off boost and down as low as 6 to 1 with massive amounts of boost (nearly 30psi)). The engine was configured such that the static CR could go up higher than 10.5 as well.


i guess most of the concept hybrid cars are plug-ins. Simply beacuse those cars are easier to move around exhibitions, small areas and car transport trucks.

It seems Saab has thought it through, but maybe all electric range isn't great and GM didn't want to mention it.



I like you idea of the series parallel hybrid. We are surely on the cusp of electricalcentric hybrids with little more that the 70mph cruise power output of the engine that can dirctly couple to the differential (minimum drive train losses and max operating efficiency at between 55 and 70 mph.

Here in Italy traffic has really slowed in the last few years and you have poeple going around 130 - 140kph. A few run at 150 and the very odd handful over that for sustained periods.

a top speed of 170kph would be sufficient for most of europe (perhaps the germans would not like it). As I have driven in most countries and tarffic flows at around that stated above. With some useful control, the engine could be direct drive or decoupled depending on the max efficiency obtainable at any particular load point. With a big enough battery and electric motor good performance would be achievable.

Add plug in and you are home.

I put together a proposal for my management based on the same concept for a small motorcyle. Looked as though I could have obtained the magic 1l/100km number. (closest is about 1.8 l/100km for anything that gets over 45mph.

It is the step in the right diection to the full BV and could exist quite well in parallel with BEV.


The comments to this entry are closed.