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A True Convergence of Drinking and Driving
June 17, 2005 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Saab's new 9-5 2.0T Biopower sedan runs on regular boring old gas and pumps out a respectable 148 horses. But, because its an FFV (Flex-Fuel Vehicle), fill it up with E85 ethanol (or grain alcohol to you, rummy) and, with the turbo (especially suited for use in ethanol powered vehicles because of ethanol's higher octane), the power is boosted to 184 horses while reducing the bulk of emissions and using a renewable energy source. Only problem is that there are only a little over 300 ethanol fueling stations in the US, it should be noted that the car is not aimed at the US market so our loss is Europe's gain (though not for long). [More Inside]
Read about it last night in the latest issue of Popular Science. Previous MeFi ethanol post.
posted by fenriq (20 comments total)

 
"Turbocharged engines are particularly well-suited to exploiting the benefits of ethanol and our work with this engine indicates there is a great deal of development potential for this fuel," said Kjell ac Bergström of Saab, President and CEO of Saab Automobile Powertrain AB.
Green vehicles and Alternative Energy Vehicles
California Energy Commission: Ethanol and Ethanol Benefits.
posted by fenriq at 1:52 PM on June 17, 2005


The main benefactors of government ethanol subsidies are large agribusiness corporations that grow corn, like ADM, Monsanto and Cargill. Corn is a key foodstuff within the United States, which is transmuted into various other value-added products. Ethanol fuel products are a low priority on that list.

Ethanol subsidies are only trotted out as a demonstration of support for alternative energy by politicians around election season. In reality, it benefits large agribusinesses.

Until the subsidy equation balances and fixes the distribution problems — i.e., creating more ethanol fuel products and building more ethanol "gas" stations — these subsidies will remain on the side of corporate welfare to grow corn.

As an aside, Saab turbo's are a blast to drive.
posted by Rothko at 2:03 PM on June 17, 2005


And I hope Saab outlives GM's gross mismanagement problems and seemingly inevitable insolvency and breakup. There aren't many quirky, mainstream carmakers left.
posted by Rothko at 2:17 PM on June 17, 2005


Rothko, thanks for the input. The Economist article (in the our loss is Europe's gain section) discusses the economic forces helping to drive greater utilization of ethanol and other alternative fuels. And they do talk about balancing out the subsidies with the taxes as well as distribution.

It would just be nice to get the big oily terrorist shield bo-hunk that is OPEC off our backsides. Shame our current administration rather likes it there.
posted by fenriq at 2:17 PM on June 17, 2005


The main benefactors of government ethanol subsidies

--that should be "beneficiaries" (language snark/pet peeve)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 2:31 PM on June 17, 2005


Mea culpa.
posted by Rothko at 2:32 PM on June 17, 2005


Screw Ethanol. It's all about algae biodiesel.
posted by Yellowbeard at 2:37 PM on June 17, 2005


Toyota is betting much of its resources in offering a $50,000 hydrogen car by 2015.

Hopefully, with inflation that means 2015-dollars.
posted by Rothko at 2:43 PM on June 17, 2005


As an aside, Saab turbo's are a blast to drive.

Definitely. You'll get my 2001 9-3 when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

I don't like the new ones so much, though.
posted by teferi at 3:23 PM on June 17, 2005


Fenriq, have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure grain alcohol?
posted by furtive at 3:30 PM on June 17, 2005


You'll get my 2001 9-3 when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Same! I love its throaty growl...
posted by Rothko at 3:44 PM on June 17, 2005


Is it really better for the environment? Don't you just move the pollution to whatever power plant is used to make the energy that's used to distill the corn squeezin's into ethanol?

As the innocent boyfriend of a girl who lives in the ghetto near the power plant, I'm against relocating pollution to crappy areas. At least until she moves :)
posted by jewzilla at 4:02 PM on June 17, 2005


The main benefactors of government ethanol subsidies are large agribusiness corporations that grow corn, like ADM, Monsanto and Cargill. Corn is a key foodstuff within the United States, which is transmuted into various other value-added products. Ethanol fuel products are a low priority on that list.

Ethanol subsidies are only trotted out as a demonstration of support for alternative energy by politicians around election season. In reality, it benefits large agribusinesses.


Yes. Large agribusinesses. And family farmers. Anyone can grow corn, dumbass. Most of the farms around here are owned by independant famers, and I live in Iowa.

As far as being a "key foodstuff" that much is true, but only because the government pays so much in farm subsities that the resulting corn is practicaly free. Food companies have managed to put corn in everything, even Soft Drinks contain High-Fructose corn surup derived from corn.
posted by delmoi at 4:53 PM on June 17, 2005


Ethanol's pretty messy, all right.
And Saabs? I'm afraid GM has already ruined them, but I'm planning on driving 300,000 miles on each of mine. '98 SE 'vert. and '96 SE two door hatchback, most bang for the buck of any car I've ever driven.
posted by Floydd at 4:56 PM on June 17, 2005


Also, do they "denature" the alchohol they sell at the gas pumps? Because I think that getting pure ethenol from the gas pump would rule.
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM on June 17, 2005


Anyone can grow corn, dumbass. Most of the farms around here are owned by independant famers, and I live in Iowa.

Anectodal evidence aside, most of the farms in the country are owned the by corporations I mentioned. The days of the small, independent farmer are over.
posted by Rothko at 5:01 PM on June 17, 2005


I have been an advocate of biofuels and flexible fuels cars or as long as I have known about them. I remember when I was living in DC in the early 90s, there were government owned cars, in truth crappy saloons like the Chevrolet Corsica and some irrelevant Dodge K-car, about with these ‘VFV” and ‘FFV’ badges on the side. I read in Car and Driver that it cost $300ish on the option sheet of one of these snoozemobiles (sorry, I am not too keen on mushy front wheel drive fleet cars) to be able to use M85, E85, petrol or any combination of the above. I thought, what if the US government mandated that every car sold should be flexible fuel by, say 2010 that petrol, with all its awful environmental and security implications could be phased out over time, or at least consumption diminished. Frankly, this should have happened after the first oil shock – the consumer countries of the world could have gotten together with the auto industry to improve fuel economy and embrace biofuels. Its not an environmental panacea by any means, I know subsidies are involved (but new processes will make it more economic) and oil would continue to be important. But it would have been well worth the effort and it still is. It is potentially cleaner and would reduce global transfers of wealth to the worst regimes in the world (how long do you think the theocrats would survive in Iran with reduced oil revenues, for example?), prevent future wars and resource competition (thus promoting a more peaceful world) while reducing carbon emissions. Time for some leadership from Washington (deafening silence, etc.). I do not expect any. Only hope is that in a world of $100+ oil, biofuels will become cheaper for consumers over time. And that is not much of a hope. Meanwhile, the planet will continue to decay and become even more unstable and war torn than before….
posted by The Salaryman at 7:10 AM on June 18, 2005


(Oh and I forgot to thank fenriq for a great, informative post about an important issue)
posted by The Salaryman at 7:12 AM on June 18, 2005


Salalyman, you're quite welcome for the post, I found the news interesting and encouraging and got into researching ethanol more because I was not as familiar with it as an alternate energy source.

furtive, I used to drink rain water and then I found out about acid rain and I've had plenty of hallucinations for this lifetime. But we can get together for some lovely grain alky-pops anytime!
posted by fenriq at 8:47 AM on June 18, 2005


If every used ethanol cars we'd run out of corn pretty quick. It's a gimmick. A better way would be methanol from trash and garbage and/or methane from shit (cow, pig, horse and dog, as well as human). Think "inexhaustible".

For a "hot air" souce we have Metafilter.
posted by davy at 2:17 PM on June 18, 2005


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