Saab flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid concept car

We hope to see this car on the road in the U.S. soon: "The Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower is already an outstanding sales success in Sweden, where it is currently the best selling flex-fuel vehicle on the market and able to exploit a fast-developing network of filling station selling E85 (85% bioethanol/15% petrol) fuel.
The Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept now goes a step further by using an engine fuelled by pure E100 bioethanol. This is a BioPower evolution of the current all-aluminium, 16-valve 2.0-liter turbo engine in the Saab 9-3 range. It now develops 191 kW/260 bhp and an impressive 375 Nm maximum torque, 24 per cent and 25 per cent more respectively than on petrol. The engine incorporates an integrated starter generator (ISG) and also charges a 300-volt battery bank, mounted under the floor of the trunk.

"It retains a flex-fuel capability and features a Spark Ignited Direct Injection (SIDI) system for optimum combustion with E100; ensuring the same cold starting performance as a normal gasoline engine. Variable inlet and exhaust cam phasing is used for optimum breathing and more durable valves and valve seats are fitted, together with bioethanol-compatible materials for the fuel system [...]

"In congested driving conditions, fuel saving is taken a step further by the Saab BioPower Hybrid Concept's 'Zero Mode' operation - giving zero fuel consumption, and, of course, zero emissions - which can be selected by the driver via a button in the central console. At speeds below 50 kph, 'Zero Mode' will shut off the engine and again switch the car over to electric power only through the RDU. In this mode, the battery bank provides a range of between 10 and 20 kilometres. The engine is smoothly re-engaged whenever the battery status approaches a low charge level or the electronic throttle opening requires acceleration beyond the 50 kph operating limit.

"To optimise the availability of 'Zero Mode', a plug-in-feature is available which allows the battery bank to be connected to a mains electricity supply for additional charging in the garage. This would, for example, allow a driver commuting in heavy traffic to immediately resume in 'Zero Mode' the next morning after arriving home the previous evening having used up all its range. A neat socket is located behind the Saab badge on the 9-3 BioPower Hybrid Concept's trunk lid. "

This dovetails nicely with a recent interview with Shinichi Abe, head of Toyota's hybrid division. The UK Guardian reported: "Toyota is working on plans for "plug-ins" for the battery from the grid at fuel stations, with future hybrids carrying a traditional power-point for domestic appliances to be used outside the home. Mr Abe said the next Prius model will be able to do a nine-mile commute to work without using any petrol or diesel."

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