Saab’s technology, top or flop?

After my visit at the IAA I’ve started reviewing some of the press kits the different brands were so keen to distribute among the press people during the press days of the motor show. Too bad I started collecting the press kits on the second day, as many brands ran out of them and the only one I got was a visit card with a web-address to their media site.

But for some of Saab direct competitors I have the information I wanted. No this time I will not talk about the current product portfolio, or about visionary prototypes on the mobility in the future like the VW NILS, this time I will talk about technology other brands will introduce in normal cars in the near future and compare this with announcements Saab has already made about their future plans.

So let us check if Saab can be competitive in terms of technology or not.

Modular Platform

Audi with its MLB-Platform has been the first adopting such a system. The story began with the A5 than came the A4, Q5, A7 and the last offspring is the A6. This shows the flexibility such a system gives to a car maker.

The next brand selling cars based on a modular platform could be VW and its other non-premium brands. I don’t know, maybe in 2012 or 2013 when the next Golf comes to market, followed by the Passat.

Volvo has also announced their SPA (Scalar-Platform-Architecture), a modular platform that will allow them to base all their next cars on one single platform, reducing the development costs and allowing them to build all the cars on a single production line. I don’t know if the next S80/V70 will be based on that and when can we expect those cars, but I got the impression that it will take some years till Volvo will be able to sell a car based on SPA.

Saab has the Phoenix platform which will allow them to build all their cars (except maybe the small 9-1) based on this platform, allowing them to share engines and chassis elements without much extra effort and allowing Saab to build all those cars on the same production line.

Hybrid powertrain

Toyota is continuing its fight to stay as the hybrid king, and to be honest, they are 1 or two years ahead of any one else. Toyota presented at the IAA the new Prius plug-in hybrid.The Prius wont be a racer but it will offer 23 km of full electric range and 49 g of CO2 according to the NEDC (new European Driving Cycle). Sales will start in early 2012.

Then there is also the V60 plug-in hybrid which is planned to achieve also 50 g of CO2, this time it will be done with a diesel engine and the car is planned to come to market somewhere in 2012. Although the Prius looked like a production car, the Volvo still looks like a prototype, and not even one you use to test the technology on.

Audi has also announced that they are aiming to achieve 50g with their A4 Hybrid. The A4 hybrid won’t be available until the next gen of A4 comes to market, no earlier than 2014.

The PSA group (Peugeot/Citroen) was also presenting its Hybrid4 models, but to be honest, 99g CO2 with a Diesel engine is not too impressive, even for a DS5.

Saab has also announced that the next generation 9-3 hybrid will reach the 50g of CO2. If they reach this goal, and I think they will, they will be sharing the hybrid podium with not that many other brands.

Electric AWD

Audi made public at the IAA that they were working on what they call the e-tron quattro system. This system is from the sparse information they give in their press kits as capable as the system from e-AAM, it means that it is not only an over-the-road AWD hybrid system, but it will also be fun to drive offering torque vectoring to make the car carve along the curves. Audi states that it will take some time till this solution will be ready for volume production and my bet is that we will first see it on next gen A5 or A4 hybrid, or maybe on a S4 hybrid,but as I’ve said before this cars won’t come till 2014.


No, no other brand has announced or showcased something similar.

e-AAM and Saab also have such a system, the eXWD. It is a highly modular system that can do anything you want. You can build a full electric city car with it, a full electric AWD car, or maybe a hybrid car helping the IC-engine during acceleration, or a plug-in hybrid, allowing the driver to go full electric in short distances and use the petrol engine for longer distances, or simply use it to increase the dynamics of the car in a curve impinging a yawing moment to the car, thus making the car carve into the curve without having to move the steering wheel.

The guys from e-AAM stated earlier this year that their system was 2 years ahead of any other similar system they knew about, I think with all the current problems Saab has lost almost one year, but they are still ahead of any of their competitors.

There are thousands of other innovations in the automotive industry where either Saab hasn’t got anything similar or we don’t know about it.

So my point is, Saab has been able to go from the middle field to the front position in some fields in a very short time with few resources, so what will they be able to do when the Chinese are allowed to jump in and finance the development of future cars?

kid cassady
Member
5 years 7 days ago
Red J, I am as much for some as anyone, as I very much would like to see an adequate replacement for my 9000 Aero. But what you’ve written here reads like propaganda. How can you or anyone say that Saab is in the front position of any field at this point? We know precious little about the PhoeniX platform, which has already been licensed at a pittance to the hungry Chinese companies. Similarly scant details have emerged about Saab’s hybrid system. Only the eXWD system, if reviews of the Saabs equipped with it are any indication, is a gem… Read more »
JasonPowell
Member
5 years 7 days ago

I think we are more then competitive when it comes to technology. There are enough things going on to keep us saying wow, iQon is one of those kinds of things that for me anyways is a wow factor.

saabsaabsaab
Member
5 years 7 days ago

The new Toyota Yaris in the IAA ALREADY equipped a system like iQon, and some of the concept cars in the IAA also got similar system, so it is already not a ‘wow’ to the public

JasonPowell
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Still a wow to me, especially if you watch the video again of everything it can do.

Jeff
Member
5 years 7 days ago
While I’m very optimistic about Saab’s future tech portfolio and short development cycles, I can’t ignore the fact that other brands are actively working on some pretty incredible technology. With regards to hybrid tech, GM has some incredible industry leading technology in Voltec that will elevate all their brands (Opel in Europe moving directly at Saab territory and Buick/Cadillac in the US/China) and we’ve recently heard that BMW is rumored to strike a deal with GM for use of the tech (or at the very least will be showing off their own in the new i Series). To say that… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 7 days ago
From what I can see from the above Saab is doing a good job on things that in my stoneage drivers mind matters at the moment: The Modular platform, Hybrid power and Electric AWD. Not because Iike electric cars, but that’s the mid-term government ( as in all governments) preference, like BioEthanol was for a while. I hope that Saab will pick up on all the other solutions as well. There are plenty of ways to make a car run green. And the small developments and projects that we hear about from time to time, like the active pillar, the… Read more »
katar1na
Member
5 years 7 days ago
Red J – your point is very accurate indeed ๐Ÿ˜‰ But “self healing paint” – YESSS! That would make my day in a SAAB… The low front is lovely, but thereยดs a fact that after a few years it will almost certainly look like it has been flying back and forth in outer space. And I am not sniffing right behind! (At least not all the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ “Self Reparing metal” would be nice too, in case some other-brand-owner hits your door in a parking lot… But all the other high tech stuff that it takes half an other to… Read more »
jond
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Isn’t ‘self repairing metal’ called rubber?

katar1na
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Daah ๐Ÿ˜‰

No… you hit the car and “BLoiiinG!” back the bump goes!

Jeff
Member
5 years 7 days ago

This is the latest self-healing clearcoat, based on polyurethane. I’d definitely check it as an option if it were available, parking in the city really messes with your paint.

katar1na
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Aah! Thatยดs really nice!

But maybe as nice as that “invisible spray” that was sold some years ago, that was supposed to makeยดit impossible for surveillance cameras in traffic to take a picture of your reg.plate ๐Ÿ˜‰

Saabim
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Do we like drive the cars or we like to sit in living room. They are many many accessories included in the cars but we like “Drive” car for first time. Saab is capable to bring the best solution to the market. It means – the acceptable ratio of extra features in relation to the primary role of the car. At least Saab needs to break the uniformity of parts. It harm him the globalization at all. In my opinion Saab should go his own way.

KarlR
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Saabim, I agree! All of this things doesn take there cars more fun to drive!

SAAB never lose your driving abillity!! You are way a head of much newer cars!!

JH
Member
5 years 7 days ago

If you check the technology/development budget ratio, Saab totally outperforms everyone else… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Troels, Denmark
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Yes! – and have always done! ๐Ÿ™‚

michaelb
Member
5 years 7 days ago
I think it is absolutely necessary to be realistic. It is over time simply impossible to compete with the development budgets of big carmakers, if one is close to bankruptcy. The big carmakers are not idiots, but smart as well. For talented engineers, it makes more fun to work where development costs are reasonable and not restrained by cash drain. Furthermore, as others have pointed out, we do not know, what exactly Saab’s announcements of future technologies effectively do imply. Are they good intentions or do they reflect developments ready for production soon. I would just add some key technologies,… Read more »
mikaik
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Be serious, the TTiD is very advanced already. And as environmental friendly as a diesel could be. The reasons is not selling so well have nothing to do with the noise or refinement of the engine. I can tell you that, living in a country dominated by german cars. Most of the diesels I hear are not refined at all. In fact the only really refined one is the Jaguar. And I only see two of them regularly….

Oh, and LED daytime lights?! Don’t tell me the light pipes in 9-5 and 9-3 are normal lights, ’cause I’ll eat them.

Jeff
Member
5 years 7 days ago
They’re not daytime lights, they’re more accents. The LEDs aren’t certified to be bright enough to be considered daytime running lights. Even on the new 9-5 and 9-4X, Saab is using halogen reflector lights for DRL. GM and Ford have the same issues right now, it seems to be not only a design but supplier problem. Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Kia etc. have all solved this problem and moved on. It’ll be nice to see Saab put this behind them with some new headlamp designs using proper superbright LEDs. Also, it’d be nice to see some LED rear license bracket… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 7 days ago

I’m still oldfashioned.
I prefer actually being able to exchange all my bulbs on the road without going to my mechanic over having LEDs. ๐Ÿ˜‰
That being said I can see the advantage it we had full LED lights, not only DRL..Even though that might take a year or two extra ๐Ÿ™‚

Jeff
Member
5 years 7 days ago
Eh, an LED doesn’t have to be harder to change. There are plug in types and even screw in types available now. Home Depot sells a 40W equivalent for $9.99 now which uses only 5W. It’s a cleaner, softer light, fully dimmable with the right dimmer, and doesn’t get hot. It also lasts 30 years if you leave it on everyday for 3 hours. Crazy. The chances you’ll ever have to replace an LED bulb is much less than a standard incandescent. Let me just say right now that those damn clips to change a bulb in a Saab front… Read more »
JerseySaab
Member
5 years 7 days ago
There must be something I’m missing about the modular chassis – spinning off multiple models off the same platform is something manufacturers have been doing for a very long time. For example, American Motors built many different vehicles off the same basic chassis and drivetrains for many years. It is absolutely the right thing for a small car company to do so as not to be overwhelmed by tooling and design costs. (One of AMCs problems was that they ultimately strayed from the shared-platform concept and spent millions tooling for specialized models that never broke even.) I’m just wondering what’s… Read more »
mike saunders
Member
5 years 7 days ago

Jersey, you’re right.

The modular concept with both chassis and drivetrains was actually championed by GM years ago — but most in the auto industry press scoffed at it because GM was using it to produce some horrible vehicles. ….

Curious though: where’s the commentary about the Pang Da decision?

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 7 days ago

You’re right.
It is only because I have met a car or two who denies you the pleasure of bruising your fingers.
I use LEDs for everything else.
But I don’t like those LED bands on newer cars.
Reminds me of NFS
As I said I am oldfashioned ๐Ÿ˜‰

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