Report – Saab working on diesel hybrid

A reporter from Automobil magazine in Sweden has apparently sighted a hybrid in testing while he was in Trollhattan testing the new Saab 9-5.

The vehicle he saw was a very looking Saab 9-3 sedan and the reporter claims he saw a lot of battery packs in the back when the trunk was opened.

Automobile has just visited Trollhättan. The mission was to return the 9-5 Aero we had on test. As a bonus, we saw a diesel hybrid.

After a pleasant drive from Stockholm the writer and Oscar Carlquist arrived in Trollhättan. We will return the test car and go back to Stockholm in our own car. It is good manners to return a test car with a full tank, so we drive to a roadside petrol station affiliated to the factory. We are not alone, there are 9-5s and is 9-3s everywhere.

A 9-3 catches my attention because it is towed to the pump by a 9-5. When the car is to be refueled the co-driver goes out and open the luggage compartment. I notice a hefty collection of batteries and units, but my camera phone is not fast enough so I can take a picture.

I walk closer and see the sign in the rear side window. “Hybrid” it says, and now things get really interesting. When fueling is completed, the car is started and it becomes clear that there is a diesel engine that is being adapted for hybrid technology. I look up the car in the car register and indeed it is a diesel. It has automatic transmission and came into service in April 2007.

The development is a longstanding one. Already in November 2007 a Senska Dagbladet’s reporter spotted a white 9-3 with the combination of diesel and hybrid.

“We are developing hybrid technology for different types of engines,” said Magnus Wall, Director of the Development Laboratory at that time to SvD.

Since then much has happened with Saab. But it is gratifying to note that Saab proceeds with this project. Given how long the work has been ongoing they should soon be ready. It would be exciting if Saab could be at the forefront now. The world’s first diesel hybrid will be the Peugeot 3008 HYbird4 which goes on sale in 2011. Join now, Saab!

OK, so it’s only a sticker, but still…..

What was most interesting is that when the driver started the car, it was quite apparent that it was a diesel engine under the hood, meaning Saab could well be testing out hybrid technology in combination with their own frugal, low-emissions diesel powerplants.

Whilst petrol hybrids have been reasonably well received and appreicated for their mileage improvement, diesel hyrbids offer an even greater frugality promise and would surely be a great seller in European markets.

Thanks to Dippen and Arild for the tip!

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