This is the first post I’ll be making in what will hopefully become a regular series. While we’re clearly a Saab blog, every now and then it’s nice to keep one eye out on what the competition is cooking up for those interested in seeing what Saab will be facing off against in the future. As relevant stories come up, you’ll hear about them and get our take on what it impact they have on Saab (or what elements were ripped off from them). For those worried that we’ll be serving more articles with Bavarian cream around here fear not, lingonberries remain the topping of choice for our coverage.
First up is what is surely the most direct competitor (or copy) BMW has ever had to the classic 900, the 3 Series GT.
Leflanenews.com‘s spy photographers caught this model outside an engineering center, and expects it to go on sale in late 2012 with the new 2.0L engine. in Notice the sloping hatch that leads into the rear with larger rear glass. Ignore for the moment the extra padding on the decklid which is there to camoflage the real shape. Clearly BMW thinks that customers downsizing from SUVs and CUVs are still looking for utility, and by using the 5-door bodystyle that Saab essentially invented for European sports cars, they’re taking their own spin on it. It’s a good thing the 2013 Saab 9-3 will get its hatch back (back?), just in the nick of time. Hopefully Saab plays up the fact that they have historically owned this segment, and will dominate it in the future against the BMW and the A3/A5 sportbacks to come. I know which one I’d rather park in my driveway. It’s probably got that silly double hatch contraption too so that rear seat passengers don’t get cold when you open it up, which I originally thought was cool but seeing it in practice, not so much.
Next up we have a report out of Volvo’s northern Sweden testing grounds on the new C30 electric. Swade has a great analysis piece on this car’s insane lease price, and no doubt the economics of this car will be interesting to analyze once it comes to market. In the meantime, they’re surely studying some of the same lessons Saab and ElectroEngine have been over the past year. In the video below, they discuss how their battery range is cut by half in Northern Sweden cold weather testing (around -15°C to -20°C below).
While I won’t get into the weird economics of the car in this thread (please comment on Swade’s thread instead), I will note that Boston Power, the company that provides the batteries for the Saab ePower prototypes, have provided data that shows their batteries are much better equipped to handle cold temperatures. The Boston Power Swing 4400 cells use cobalt and manganese on the cathode with graphite on the anode and is based on an oval-shaped prismatic cell design (technical speak for the fact that it’s more advanced and robust than your typical lithium ion battery cell). In their testing, here’s what they’ve achieved in regard to temperature (the green 0.2 line):
It’s nice to see that Saab have partnered with a company who is every bit as committed to maximizing performance under real world conditions as their own. So far every official piece of news we’ve heard about Saab’s partners has been top notch, I’m sure there’s more good news to come when it comes to the benefits of battery technology.
Speaking of lithium-ion powered cars, Porsche have not only one, but two up their sleeve. One is confirmed– the 918 Spyder. It can be yours for the low, low price of $845,000. For an extra $162,000, you can get the most expensive option in automotive history, a second Porsche 911 to match. Crazy times, folks. Interestingly, its setup is pretty much exactly the same as I advocated in my Hi-Po Saab entry, but seriously beefed up. This just confirms Swade’s argument that despite the allure and sexiness of these concepts, price is a huge deterrent at this point.
The second model they might have up their sleeve is a hybrid 911 turbo, as a Jalopnik reader spotted one at a gas station that was silent as it pulled away (suggesting some form of electric propulsion underneath).
And finally from the not-so-much-a-Saab-competitor column comes an absolutely mind blowing example of excess. The owner of chassis 001 of most expensive production car available today, the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, smashed his brand new $2.9 million toy into the gates of his St. Tropez villa. In case it’s an insurance write off, I’m more than willing to buy it for parts 😉