Up Front 09/06

As a self-confessed non petrol-head, my visit to this year’s International Motor Show in London was quite an experience. While the crowds vied to catch a glimpse of the latest innovations, smartly dressed ‘car cleaning technicians’ were kept busy polishing and re-polishing muscle machines, while scantily clad models obligingly draped themselves across shiny bonnets for an eager posse of press photographers. As excited boy-racers examined gleaming hunks of metal, the talk was nought to sixty, fuel injection, twin-turbo and torque. I was in search of transport that could offer an environmentally friendly option – more air-head than petrol-head. Amongst the major manufacturers there was little evidence of any effort to curb the world’s need for oil but notable exceptions included Ford and most surprisingly SAAB. The Swedish motor manufacturer, now part of the American GM group, has been having a great impact on car buyers with the SAAB 9-5 BioPower. In fact the bioethanol version represents 80% of sales in the model. For anyone interested in a more environmental world that is a heart-warming statistic. Indeed Sweden can currently lay claim to perhaps the world’s most ambitious stance, planning to be oil free by 2020. It’s an admirable plan and one that could be attempted by any developed country.