Ford and Saab launch biofuel cars in anticipation of new legislation
13 November 2005

IN AS LITTLE AS FIVE YEARS, you could be filling your car with fuel made from plants.

The Government is planning to introduce legislation to ensure that by 2010 five per cent of all fuel sold for road transport will be biofuels, produced from crops such as sugar cane and oil seed rape.

New EU legislation demands that a greater proportion of road fuel comes from sustainable resources, and biofuels produce much less C02 than petrol. According to transport secretary Alastair Darling, this will reduce C02 output by one million tonnes a year — equivalent to removing a million cars from the roads.

Car makers are already offering models that will run on biofuels. Saab has just launched its 9-5 BioPower in the UK, and Ford is trialling a fleet of Focus Flexi-fuel Vehicles (FFV).

The 9-5, which uses Saab’s 2.0-litre light-pressure turbo engine, has more power and torque than a standard 2.0t — 180bhp and 206lb ft against 150bhp and 177lb ft. It’s priced from £21,651 for the Linear saloon model and in its native Sweden, 80 per cent of 9-5s sold this year have been BioPower cars.

However, the rest of the industry may bide its time before launching such biofuel vehicles. There are few outlets selling biofuel, although biodiesel is more widespread, and some makers are wary of what happened with LPG.

Hailed as the alternative fuel of the future, it has fallen out of favour because its C02 emissions are little better than those of petrol. Volvo, in particular, invested £40 million in developing LPG cars but has now switched to biofuel-powered models.

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