Saab 9-3 Biogas model for Sweden

We first heard about the possibility of a Biogas version of the Saab 9-3 back in October last year. Back then, it was shown at a conference in Gothenberg as a test vehicle only.

The car has now been driven by Auto Motor and Sport, who also provide some pricing information about the car in the following article, provided by Carl-Henrik via email:

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Saab 9-3 SportCombi TriFuel: Three in one

Our man on the west coast, Thomas Berggren, has test driven the new multi-fuel car 9-3 SportCombi TriFuel. Three different types of fuel in one car. It arrives much funnier news from Saab now!

AMS: Hello! You drive something that is called “TriFuel” – what does that mean?
TB: Well, it means that it can run on petrol, E85, and biogas. It has a normal fuel tank on 61 litre, but also a gas tank on 102 litre that can take 24 normal cubic metres of gas.

AMS: Can you fit so many tanks in the car?
TB: This is an “after conversion”, just like Volvo has done with their V70, and because of that it steals some of the space from the cargo compartment. The cargo floor is about 100 mm higher.

AMS: How does it work when you drive, can you choose petrol on your own?
TB: Yes, you can. With a small button on the dashboard you can choose type of fuel. When it is cold the cars starts on liquid fuel, that is handled automatic. Later when the engine is warm you can drive on gas if you want, and of course you can change while on the move. Saab is thinking about making the car to choose the biogas as primary fuel, but so far the driver has to make that choise on her own.

AMS: How is it with milage?
TB: 61 litre gives a normal milage for a SportCombi, but then you can add 24 cubic metres of biogas, so totally you have a milage of about 900 – 1000 km. Then you have used up all fuel and it’s a good time to find a gas station.

AMS: Is it any fun with it?
TB: Yes, Saab sticks to their strategy that it should be valuable/profitable in regards of driver-happiness when it comes to bio-fuels. With petrol the car has 150 hp, with E85 it is 175 hp, and with biogas it is also 175 hp. This in spite of both ethanol and biogas has a lower energy-factor than petrol

AMS: What does it cost?
TB: This one costs 304.900 Skr ( = 31790 EUR / 39.040 USD, exchange rate of today), which is 40.000 Skr ( = 4170 EUR / 5120 USD ) + VAT more than a BioPower-model. The conversion is made by Saab ANA in Trollhättan and is sold by Saab dealers.

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And as per the October story….

  • The conversion will be done by ANA in Trollhattan
  • The car loses some luggage space, around 10cm in depth
  • The range of the car is effectively raised by around 200km.
  • This is not a vehicle that will have widespread appeal straight away as access to biogas is limited. There are plans for around 70 biogas filling stations in Sweden by 2012.

From other sources, it seems a Swedish company called BRC might be hooked up with ANA in this conversion business. They’ve been working with converting Volvos for some time and also had a hand in building this BioGas powered racing Saab for the Swedish Touring Car Championship.

Click here to see ANA’s own (short) page on the BioGas Saab 9-3.

Monday Night Snippets – small world edition

Gasgoo report that Beijing Automotive, who are mostly known for their heavy machinery rather than passenger cars in the Chinese market, are planning to launch their own ‘Beijing’ branded passenger cars next year.

The partner of Daimler AG and Hyundai Motor Co, BAIC will unveil several of its own passenger car models at the Beijing motor show next April, the source said, and plans to begin commercial production later in 2010.
BAIC will revive its own brand named Beijing for the models, which will include medium and high-end sedans, SUVs and hybrid vehicles, according to the source.
The Beijing badge was created in 1958 but graced only a handful of cars due to limited production.

Anyone want to place best on what those medium and high-end sedans look like?
There have been plans mentioned for BAIC to licence Saab’s outgoing 9-5 model and possibly even the previous generation Saab 9-3 for the Chinese domestic market.
Both are very competent cars that could be produced cost effectively there. I guess we’ll have to wait until April to see how that pans out, and how well the plan is received.
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TTELA report that the Projekt Trifuel cars shown at Gothenburg last week have been very well received and that ANA has received significant interest in the cars, mainly from government institutions as the infrastructure is not ready for mainstream consumer use.
The Tri-fuel cars are ones that ANA (the big Saab dealership in Trollhattan) will convert to run on Biogas, which is a methane gas extracted from organic waste. The Biogas tanks will be added to the rear of the car and the cars will maintain their capability to run on gasoline or E85 like a normal Saab BioPower model.
It’s important to note that the project is not one of Saab’s doing, but is an aftermarket initiative by ANA.
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How’s this for a small-world tale?
Via email this morning from TonyVee……

Today I had the extreme pleasure of meeting two of your countrymen. I run a bookstore for a living here in the states and a customer came in a bought some books. He was having trouble getting the change right, at this point he said he was here from Snydey and didn’t understand our money. I told him I sorta had an acquaintance from Tasmania. Well, from that point on we had one helluva conversation about Saabs. He owns a 9-3 Monte Carlo and a 900. We talked about K-Segg, Saab, Volvo, and of course how lovely The Aussie country is.

There were only 50 Monte’s bought into Australia. Mine is #9.
What are the chances the owner of another one would would into a bookstore on the other side of the world and get into a Saab conversation with the owner, who happens to tune in here?
Fantastic!

Projekt Trifuel – BioGas Saab unveiled

SaabBioGas.JPG Saab have shown their BioGas model at a conference in Gothenburg today. Both TTELA and Auto Motor and Sport are reporting on the vehicle.
The vehicle loses around 9cms of luggage space in the rear in order to hold 100 litres of BioGas in its tanks. That much gas will take you around “20 mil” which is Swede-speak for 200 kilometers, IIRC. Plans are afoot to get that range up to 30 mil “but we have not reached that yet” according to Saab Powertrain’s Kenth Johansson.
There is no confirmation yet that this model will get the green light. The infrastructure for BioGas is still pretty limited. There are plans for around 70 BioGas filling stations in Sweden by 2012, so this isn’t a widespread solution. If it does go ahead, it’ll most likely be a Sweden-only model at first.
As it’s a demonstrator model only, there’s no idea at this point as to the cost of the conversion, but reports from a few days ago suggest it will be done at ANA rather than at the factory.

Saab BioGas conversions coming

I need to check into some details on this, but it’s certainly an interesting development that we should hear more about this week.

From Auto Motor and Sport, with a translation thanks to Frank!

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Saab will show a new 9-3 for biogas

Tuesday the 27th, a new Saab model will be unveiled in Gothenburg and it can be run on three fuels: gasoline, E85 and biogas.

So far we know no more than having the invitation to the premiere show, which will take place on Tuesday 27th October. The display is made in connection with an EU meeting in Gothenburg, where policy makers are gathered under the heading “Future Road Transport – safe and clean.”

In parallel with seminars and conferences for the heights in Europe to the dealer ANA Trollhättan show off a new Saab 9-3 1,8 t BioPower, which also will run on biogas. The car is a result of the project “Trifuel”, which of course refers to the car can run on the three fuels, gasoline, E85 and biogas. The project was coordinated by Innovatum Teknikpark with GM Powertrain Sweden AB, AVL and BRC Sweden AB.

The conversion to run on biogas will be made by ANA Trollhättan and Saab may thus have a competitor to Volvo V70 2.5 FT Bi Fuel and the Volkswagen Passat bestseller Ecofuel.

For company car drivers, gas-fueled cars that can run on biogas are especially interesting when you get 40 percent discount on the benefit value (not more than 16,000 per year). The rapidly growing interest in gas-fueled cars have put heavy pressure on supplies to the as yet relatively few gasmack services.

Biogas is methane gas extracted from organic waste and it is a very environmentally beneficial vehicle fuel that is carbon neutral. Methane gas is extracted as a byproduct of crude oil and natural gas is then called. The amount of biogas and natural gas can vary from filling stations.

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AMS also have a picture of a Volvo V70 converted to run on BioGas. The tanks are stored in an under-floor compartment so that the space loss is minimal.

VolvoV70_gas_bagage.jpg

Here in Australia we have a lot of cars that run on Liquid Petroleum Gas. Being a gas-newbie I’m unsure if this is a different product, or a different name for the same product (it’s a different product – SW).

Anyway, Australian LPG installations often involve a single large tank in the trunk, which does cause a loss of luggage space. I think they’re getting better at it in more modern cars, though (admittedly, I haven’t looked at an LPG car for a long time).

As AMS say in their article, it’ll be interesting to see how they solve the tank issue.

We’ll watch with interest as this is another good positive development for Saab.

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