Good Oil: Bio-fuelled Branson

British multimillionaire Sir Richard Branson has put his money where his eco-friendly mouth is and is driving a Saab 9-5 BioPower station wagon. The flex-fuel carruns on the renewable fuel source bioethanol E85 - 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent diesel. Branson says: "I am convinced that biofuels are the way forward, both for the car and aviation industries, which is a vision we share with Saab." The ethanol in E85 is made from agricultural products such as wheat and grain. "In the future," he says, "we will see it made from cellulosic waste matter, such as wood chippings, which really will make it the ultimate green fuel."

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Foreign vehicles took all 13 spots on the US insurance industry's list of safest vehicles this year. The list is: Audi A6 in the large car category; the Audi A4, Saab 9-3 and Subaru Legacy in midsize; the Hyundai Entourage and Kia Sedona mini-vans; the Mercedes M-Class and Volvo XC90 luxury SUVs; the Acura (Honda's luxury arm) RDX, Honda Pilot and Subaru Tribeca midsize SUVs; and the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester small SUVs.

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The 200,000th Porsche Boxster has just rolled off the production line at the Valmet plant in Finland. This landmark vehicle, a meteor grey metallic Boxster S, is being delivered to a customer in the US. At the roadster's launch in 1996, Porsche figured on annual production of 15,000 units.

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It's no secret that BMW is building a station wagon version of the Mini, called the Traveller after the original Morris Minor carry-all of the 1950s. But the word out of Europe is that a "lifestyle" all-wheel-drive variantwill be available around 2009. Meanwhile, the one millionth Mini is expected to to roll off the line at its Oxford plant early next year.

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A wealthy, childless couple from Wisconsin will leave much of their money to America's National Corvette Museum when they depart this earth. Ivan and Mary Shrodt say they will give around US$2 million ($3 million) to the museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to go toward a US$20 million expansion. The couple pledged the gift when they went to pick up their latest Corvette, a 2007 black Z06.

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