British Motor Show - Saab's X concepts

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A pair of attractive concept cars on the Saab stand show that it has big(ish), and small, plans.

First, there's the 9-4X concept, a compact off-roader that will enter the busy market alongside the likes of the Land Rover Freelander and Honda CR-V next year.

Secondly, at the other end of the scale, there's the 9-X concept, a car that will compete with rivals such as the Audi A3 from 2010.

Both will come with conventional petrol and diesel engines, but the concept cars are also powered by biofuel engines that use ethanol-rich fuel - a controversial subject at the moment.

Critics argue that biofuels are causing food shortages, and consequent price increases, as well as deforestation, as growers to try to cash in on fuel crops.

The Government recently announced that the development of biofuels in the UK would be slowed, following a report by Professor Ed Gallagher, chairman of the Renewable Fuels Agency.

Saab is still holding out hope for biofuels from sustainable sources, however, such as from waste wood pulp or from algae growing in the sea.

A spokesman from General Motors, Saab's owners, told us: 'We endorse the Secretary of State for Transport's views that there are good and bad biofuels out there, and we need to do all we can to encourage the good and discourage the bad.

'However, if we are serious about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we need to have the courage to explore all viable alternatives.

'We cannot afford to ease up on our efforts to develop biofuels sustainably, and governments have a responsibility to come up with incentives and policies that encourage this new industry to prosper.'

Besides the concepts, Saab is bringing the rather potty 280bhp 9-3 Turbo X.

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