E85 coming to Australia!
Posted by Car Geek on November 2, 2007
Ethanol fuel in concentrations of 85 per cent will be available in Australia in “early 2008″ through United Petroleum, potentially at a cost of $1 per litre.
The E85 fuel, which is composed of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent unleaded petrol, will initially be available at two locations – one in Melbourne’s inner suburbs and another in the lower north shore suburbs of Sydney – however United anticipates that it will increase the number of E85 outlets available around Australia, and hopes that the major oil companies follow suit.
E85 fuel, widely available in many parts of the US and Brazil but currently unavailable in Australia, has lower net carbon dioxide emissions when compared to standard unleaded fuel. The reduction is due to the absorption of CO2 by the fuel source, primarily crops such as sugarcane and wheat. E85 has come under fire in the US for putting a strain on food supplies, where the ethanol is made from corn feedstock, and while some fear that the same may occur here, Australian feedstocks yield more than twice as much ethanol per hectare as their American counterparts and have a far lower population to service.
The move is particularly good news for Saab, who market Australia’s only E85-capable production vehicle, the Saab BioPower 9-5. Saab aftersales manager Neil Whitehead says that there is the potential for all of their vehicles to be E85-capable in the future.
“There is a chance we will [ensure all petrol-powered Saabs can run on E85],” says Whitehead. “In many respects we’ve got nothing to lose. In many respects it’s a positive move for the environment.”
Currently the Saab BioPower sells for $1000 over its petrol-only equivalent, but the introduction of the E85 fuel for which it is optimised may help boost sales. The car can run on any concentration of ethanol up to 85 per cent, but obtains the best performance from E85 due to a fuel system which determines the amount of ethanol being used. Saab claims that using E85 in its BioPower vehicle can reduce net CO2 emissions by up to 80 per cent.