Bye BioPower!

The world could be a better place. A place where you could be CO2 neutral. Where we would not fill the till of Saudi potentates with every tank filling. They finance their medieval regime and a worldview guaranteed to be far from democracy. The world could ... but it is not!

Saab 9-5 I BioPower
Saab 9-5 I BioPower

The tax subsidy of E85 expires on 01.01.2016. What is to come is clear. Bioethanol, an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil energy, will disappear from the pumps. It all started with great ambitions. E85 in Europe is also a Swedish story and a piece of Saab history. Bioethanol and Saab, that was an exceptional relationship.

The vision. Bioethanol should be obtained from forest waste and Sweden should become independent of fossil energy. The southern German version: Instead of wood chips, it should be agricultural waste, both ideas are brilliant - and would have worked if, in addition to the good ethanol, there had also been the bad ethanol. Because against E85 in the tank, from vegetable waste, nobody can say.

The bad ethanol. What does not work, where a cause of failure lies, is ethanol from food or from plantations. Ethanol 1.0 is made from sugarcane in Brazil and is definitely not a green fuel. Just as little corn or wheat, from which biofuel is produced in Europe. For the press, fuel from food was stuff from which to weave scandals. There was a lack of political will, a countermeasure, an Ecolabel for E85 from vegetable waste. After a short time consumers understood. Fuel from food. Ethanol is evil. Ethanol is dead.

Why it failed. E85 is actually a stroke of genius in the tank. CO2 neutral on the road, with mature, affordable combustion technology, hardly noticeable additional costs. It was possibly too simple and customer-friendly - and not realistic if it was widely used. High demand for E85, only from vegetable waste, would not have been covered. The big manufacturers were really only interested in the topic in certain markets. In Brazil, in Sweden. The many E85 models from VW were reserved for almost all Scandinavia, the rest of Europe was preferred to make diesel tasty.

Saab and bioethanol. Saab has a special relationship with biofuel. Because Saab could do what nobody else could. More power and a clear conscience. The exception relationship between Saab and E85 is called BioPower. The BioPower concept is a by-product of research on a variable-compression multi-fuel engine. Of the SVC Engine never went into production, only one test vehicle still exists, but 2006 Saab BioPower engines came on the market.

Reason for me at the time to buy a 9-5. A conscious decision because I thought the concept was brave, intelligent and environmentally friendly. And because it was a lot of fun ...

The view back: Bloggers back mirror
The view back: Bloggers back mirror

The exception relationship of the exceptional brand Saab to E85 has a name: Trionic! The intelligent engine management of Saab conjures in ethanol operation some horsepower and torque in addition. That was noticeable in access and pulling power. Bioethanol was refueled whenever possible. Often with a small detour, with meticulous route planning through the extensive network of E85 gas stations. That with the additional horses at no extra cost could only Saab. The higher consumption, around 20%, was offset by a green conscience and the low price at the pump.

The end of the exceptional relationship. There is something that the old Saab 9-5 generation has ahead of the new (or last). The Trionic. There is no such thing with the 9-5 NG, Robert Bosch lives under the hood. It does its job well, but is not able to conjure up more driving fun and power from the E85. Ethanol was therefore rarely found in the tank of my current 9-5 NG. A farewell to installments.

And if my gas station soon E85 from the program, then that's just the case. An alternative less, the result of a political process that does not want to be bold or green.

Germany is not alone in saying goodbye. In Sweden, E85 has been on the decline for years. Those who fill up with green fuel have been paying for it since the subsidy for ethanol vehicles expired. Volvo is now completely canceling its range of E85 vehicles, as is Ford, and Audi is also dropping the models from the range. Volkswagen, of all people, is the last manufacturer to hold the bioethanol flag high with a Golf Variant.

What remains? At the dispensers there are E5 and E10. A plörre, politically wanted, that does not make anyone happy. Whether ethanol floats out of sugar cane or food, nobody can rule it out. With my E85 tank I could do that. Only South German agricultural waste came out of the fuel nozzle. Refined in Germany. Politically harmless. Past !

21 thoughts on "Bye BioPower!"

  • In the given situation, I consider agroethanol to be a window dressing. And under another situation for unrealizable. As can be seen from this Wikipedia entry:
    yields a ton of grain 8840 MJ ethanol energy. But 6417 MJ are needed for cultivation and production. So only 2063 MJ is left. Given the situation, it can be assumed that most of the 6417 MJs are contributed by fossil carriers. Thus, the carbon footprint is not so great, only 25% savings.

    However, if the required energy were also completely covered by ethanol (which probably would not work, but mentally), the required acreage would quadruple in order to get the same amount into the tanks of the cars. What can not be done.

    Whether you accept the already gigantic cultivated areas and environmental impact for 25% savings, whether the benefits are sufficient ?! I think, no. Therefore, I hope on electric cars, despite the lousy perspective on the batteries.

  • Such a pity the E85 is dismantled.
    First Holland (never been on offer in Belgium) but still happy in Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria.
    Since I'm out of the blue with my 9-5 NG, Biopower, this E85 has always been a comrade. A little more consumption but no 20% more !!!
    It gets sad when E85 can not be refueled; It was like a sport to find this gas station on its way and drive.

  • Here is the link to the models in the business plan:

    Obviously, at least half of the models are NOT on the market:
    - hopefully no sedan (really nobody needed, neither was the 9k nor the 9-5 particularly popular)
    - Hopefully not a 3-door coupe (impractical and Saab always stood for "form follows function")
    - hopefully no SUVs (olle fuel guzzlers)
    - hopefully …

    How about instead:
    + small city car (5türig and short and agile; BMWs cashcow is the mini !!!)
    + Kombi (is still sufficient for families completely and is lighter and more economical than SUV)
    + Combicoupe like the 9k or 900er (elegant yet spacious)
    + and then vlt. another high-legged crosscountry version for the horse trailer / forest roads section

    Oh, that's nothing but NEVS * frustrated *

    I see only two ways:
    + Affordable small electric car in mini format
    + Successor to the 9k. There was enough space in it and it was elegant and fast enough too. Modern 6-gearbox with long translated 6.Gang buy and ready. The best with a tailgate as the Superb (is small as the sedan and big as the CS)

    • Michèl is working on a detailed article on the topic that will go online today.

    • Oh, oh, what am I reading there? Hopefully no 3-door coupe. I would immediately buy a new 3 door as a successor to the Viggen, the 93er Coupes, Aero with Viggenbody, for example, just look awesome, right?

  • E85 fuel is snow of yesterday, during our stays spring and autumn 2015 in southern Sweden we did not find it at the gas stations. And that looked quite different a few years ago. I remember 2006, where it was difficult to find diesel at the gas pumps.

    New information is available on the NEVS business plan, have a look at the Saabsunited page. The new models from 2017 were roughly presented, which makes you want more. Are namely many hatchbacks here. Thanks to Saabsunited, you were the first.

    • Why say this on here.
      Saabunited just copied it from P4 Väst,

    • I just buy a 9-5 estate (combi) 2009 in UK. 66,000 miles, has all extras and Sunroof… .very good @ £ 5500.
      BUT I also keep my 9000 Anni (1998, stage 1 maptune) for all my life now.

  • I would be interested to know how the Biopower engine behaves towards LPG. So more in the direction of E85b or gasoline. How compatible are the engines with the hotter combustion.

    • I drive both, of course I prefer biogas at 49 cents a liter. The Biopower motor was even an advantage during the retrofit because it inherently has harder valve seats - so I was told. Since the effort is greater with a normal gasoline engine.
      Incidentally, a farmer in Lower Saxony has told me that they have been driving the liquid manure to the biogas plant for a long time. Fine! But then the delivery of herbal substances was allowed and even better remunerated. Since then, corn cultivation is booming.
      Unfortunately in Germany bravely the political idiots are elected to the government.

  • I've been driving a 5-9 II SportCombi BioPower for over 3 years (Hirsch upgrade to 225 PS included) and am always looking forward to the extra boost of performance. A saabiges driving feeling of all first quality. Too bad that E85 is hired in Germany, but I hope that it will be offered even longer in Austria.

  • Yes, the tank was the problem. I've also been on the road for almost 8 years with a 9-5 Bio, but a tank content shortage from 75 to 68 liters (of which only about 60 liters were usable) with an additional consumption of 20-30% and the resulting range of max. 450-500 km in everyday life was a nervous challenge. When I actually let the additional horses gallop, I was usually back at "my" E400 gas station after 85 km (which of course could only be reached via a detour). It would have needed a 100-liter tank and a closer E85 network in the long run

  • Dear Blogger,
    thanks for the words - especially about the "bad" ethanol, although the quotation marks bother me. It is actually not a good fuel. If you drive through Schleswig-Holstein or Lower Saxony, you will see that numerous farmers are polluting the landscape in order to operate their biogas plants. The consequences are: the bee colonies become extinct and therefore there is no pollination of the plants, no food for numerous insects, thus no food for birds etc. - and a lot of camouflage and food for wild boars. Another consequence: Our grain is imported from the Far East and, of course, heavy oil is burned in the ship's engine - an absurdity in my opinion, but politically wanted. The criticism of the energy transition could continue, but is off topic here. Clean ethanol from waste: welcome. But if I want to save CO2, instead of maize fields, I create a forest that binds a thousand times as much CO2.

    • Monoculture is always a problem. We have on the doorstep relatively small fields and small businesses. But even there is the intensive corn cultivation a problem. The wild boar population is growing rapidly, while other wildlife habitat is being taken. One reason is E85, agricultural fuel. Another is the EU, which wants an agricultural industry politically, instead of promoting small and medium-sized enterprises and thus preserving diversity. But the topic probably goes beyond the limits of the blog.

  • I always thought that was a brilliant alternative. Only the 100 liter tank in the Saab was missing!

  • True, great words!
    I also gladly fed the E85 - with pure southern German agricultural ingredients - and a clear conscience to my 9-5NG ... - and enjoyed the SAAB technology!

  • Well let's see how long it will be at our tank. (

    I'm still looking for a Bio Power Emplem for my tailgate.
    does one have a tip?

    • The tailgate emblems are available from the Saab dealer. Here are the order numbers:

      12841799 9-5 NG

      12765204 9-5 upper floor & 9-3 II

      If no retailer is around, many blog supporters are shipping too!

      • Thank you.
        The last request at the friendly had not helped me. (

      • For sense or nonsense, driving pleasure and extra power of the E85 times ignored, if E10 again at 1,4 € is worth the E85 again in everything that is cheaper makes E10 sense again.

        At least if I go for my extra consumption.

        • My gas station will take it out of the program completely, as soon as the tank is empty. Then the alternative is gone.

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