With a new budget set to be unveiled by Chancellor Gordon Brown in the UK parliament this week, Saab has decided to weigh in on promoting alternative fuels. With their turbocharged engine lineup able to benefit even more than naturally aspirated engines, Saab has become a major proponent of ethanol in the last couple of years. Saab's engine management system is able to use more turbo boost and spark advance when running on ethanol to make up for the energy deficiency that ethanol has compared to gasoline.

Saab Great Britain Managing Director Jonathan Nash is urging Brown to follow the lead of other European countries and reduce fuel taxes on E85 to reduce the pump price of the biofuel. Nash also wants to see a variety of tax breaks for flex-fuel vehicles, to encourage both private and fleet purchases of such vehicles. Finally, as we have seen in the US, flex-fuel vehicles are really only beneficial if you can put biofuel into the tank. So Saab wants the government to introduce incentives to expand the availability of ethanol at the pump. The Saab press release is after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]

* Saab unveils a Biofuel Budget outlining actions it would like to see the Chancellor take in his 2007 Budget to boost the use of bioethanol E85 and reduce Britain's CO2 output from road transport.

* Managing Director of Saab Great Britain, Jonathan Nash, says it is time for the Treasury to act and financially support bioethanol E85 with tax breaks in an historic green budget.

* Nash says the UK Government claims to be taking the lead on green issues with initiatives such as last week's draft climate change bill but states that Britain is still lagging behind other European countries.

Saab Great Britain has today (Monday 19th March 2007) unveiled a BioPower Budget detailing the measures it would like to see the UK Government take in the Budget on Wednesday to boost the use of bioethanol E85 and reduce Britain's CO2 output from road transport.

Saab's three key Biofuel Budget actions are:

1. Reduce the tax on bioethanol E85 to drive down prices at the pump – as other European countries have already done. For example, both the Swedish and German Governments apply the maximum discount on fuel duty allowed by EU law in order to encourage the use of bioethanol E85 in their nations.
2. Encourage drivers to opt for flex-fuel cars - this could be achieved by a variety of measures, such as discounting company car tax, reducing Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and offering incentives for private purchasers – these tactics are already in place and are working in other European countries.
3. Support the expansion of the bioethanol E85 infrastructure - incentives are needed to rapidly increase the number of bioethanol E85 refuelling pumps in the UK, whilst encouraging local production of the fuel.

Jonathan Nash, Managing Director of Saab Great Britain Limited says: "I understand that policy-makers are grappling with a range of tough environmental and social challenges, but the fact remains that transport emissions are still increasing. It is time for the UK Government to take hard action and make a financial commitment to offset the cost of going green. For example, bioethanol E85 is a fuel available right now that can make an immediate and substantial contribution to reducing CO2 output from road transport."

"I welcome the current focus on addressing climate change and I was pleased to see the Chancellor acknowledge the contribution that biofuels can make to reducing overall CO2 emissions" he continued. "However, what we need to know now is how Gordon Brown plans to encourage the public to drive cars that can run on eco-friendly fuel sources such as bioethanol E85."

Nash says: "The British Government claims to be taking the lead on these green issues but the UK is lagging behind other European countries including Sweden, Germany, France and Ireland in terms of specific actions and incentives which will genuinely persuade people to change their behaviour. We hope this situation changes when the Chancellor makes his Budget speech on Wednesday."

Saab is currently the only car company in the UK to offer an alternative fuel engine choice in every single model in its line-up and has been at the forefront of the UK's emerging bioethanol industry. Saab's innovative BioPower flex-fuel technology allows its cars to run on either bioethanol E85 produced from agricultural crops such as wheat, sugar beet and woody sources; standard unleaded petrol or any mix of the two; without any adjustment required by the driver. When running on bioethanol E85, these cars typically emit 50 – 70 per cent less fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) than their petrol equivalents.

Note to Editors

About Saab BioPower technology
Premium car-maker Saab launched its BioPower flex-fuel technology in its domestic market of Sweden in 2005. Since that time, the Saab 9-5 BioPower has flown to the top of the country's environmentally-friendly sales charts, with some 11,000 9-5 BioPowers sold in Sweden last year. Saab has three BioPower engines currently for sale in the UK market , all of which enjoy substantially-reduced fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, whilst delivering significant increases in power when running on bioethanol E85 compared to when running on petrol.

Bioethanol is produced commercially from agricultural crops, such as wheat, sugar cane, sugar beet, and other forms of biomass. Also under development are second-generation processes which offer greater energy efficiency by using ligno-cellulose extracted from forestry and agricultural products, such as wood, straw and grass. The bioethanol is blended in high volumes with small amounts of petrol to create the eco-friendly yet potent fuel, bioethanol E85. Unlike petrol, bioethanol consumption does not significantly raise atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main 'greenhouse' gas. This is because emissions released during driving are balanced by the amount of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere when crops for conversion are grown. In contrast, fossil-based fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, release new amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere which have been locked away underground in oil deposits.

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