If you are living in Europe, you might have to drop your feeling of superiority over the SUV-driving Americans, because this week it was announced that after an extremely weak reduction in CO2 emissions for the new autos sold in 2005 (from 162,2 to 160), the European Auto Industry cannot possibly succeed to meet voluntary commitments to reduce the average fleet emissions to 140gm/km. Sweden and Finland lead the pack as the worst performers in Europe, followed up by Germany in third place. Hmmm. Performance car culture = poor performance in sustainability. But motorheads fear not: Saab to the rescue! Saab now has three engines giving hope to the sportscar enthusiast in the face of probable action by EU regulators to give teeth to CO2 commitments. Option Number 1: Eco-auto for beginners
Saab has offered the promised 9-5 2.0t model with BioPower since mid-2005 in their homeland and the first deliveries in Germany are expected in Spring 2006. And since the recent study suggests European consumers are selecting sportier cars over the eco-efficient options available, it is a good thing that the performance of the "Flexible Fuel" motor is better when the machine is fed a diet of bio-ethanol. The 2.0t engine delivers 132 KW/180HP in bio-mode but only 110KW/150 PS with traditional fuel. When drunk on nature, she spurts from 0 to 100km/h in 8.5s and then accelerates to 120 in fifth gear in another 13.5s, while its dinosaur-fueled sibling hits the goals at 9.8s and 14.9s
Option Number 2: Eco-auto goes high-performance
Saab has now demonstrated in the top-model 9-5 2.3 Turbo Aero that changing the classic turbo-charged gas engine to biofuels is feasible. With biofuel, the Aero achieved almost 20% power premium, at 228 KW/310HP surpassing the rated 191 KW/260 HP. The bad news: Saab is still testing the application of the bio-ethanol in the turbo-charged Aero prototype, and has no plans to produce the Bio-Aero in series. The Aero has been making the rounds of the auto shows, doing Los Angeles and Detroit in early 2006.
Option Number 3: The First Fossil Fuel Free Hybrid
Not to neglect their tramping grounds, at the recent Stockholm motor show Saab offered the World Premier of the first completely fossil fuel free hybrid: the 9-3 convertible BioPower Hybrid--the completely fossil fuel free prototype shown at the top of this article. While the Flex Fuel version use E85, a blend of 85% biofuel with 15% petroleum, the BioHybrid is designed to use E100, pure renewable fuel. Now if you can just stick it out with your bicycle until 2010... For more on the BioHybrid, see World Car Fans.