Lightness and Aerodynamics – Saabs Future?

Skärmavbild 2014-06-05 kl. 18.48.28

With the last news coming to our ears in the recent days what I write below is something anyone making cars in Trollhättan in the future should consider not once but twice.

Weight-loss as a method to increase performance in the daily life is known to most of us with a few or more centimeters around the belly or thighs. The same goes for our cars. I was inspired to write this post after having seen the new FORD Lightweight Concept Car in american motor press. It is amazing what can be done today with new production techniques and new materials. Who would have thought about hollow springs or aluminium brake calipers, carbon fiber in seats and wheels. Carbon fiber wheels will finally make them lightweight. Unsprung weight is also good for the chassis performance.

Here is my bold idea for Saab Cars. Hold on to the chairs now boys and girls. Saab´s heritage IS aerospace it is just a fact and right after the second world war soon 70 years ago Saab embarked on a path of making cars with aerospace technology, and brave new concepts like front wheel drive, aerodynamic design by Sixten Sason and others, even if Gunnar Ljungström Chief engineer told me he was not satisfied with the front wheel houses as he called massive air brakes. Various safety concept Saab also pioneered like standard issue seat belts and dual circuit brake systems. Just like in airplanes redundant systems.

The Saab of the future should be constructed with lightweight constructions in focus, just like airplanes, that would bring back the “core” to the brand. Add to that class leading aerodynamics and a for the pilot/driver optimized workplace/cockpit. That environment must be free from “modern” styling cues that seams to be ordered from most of the automotive worlds marketing departments instead of the human factors man machine interaction engineers/psychologists. My professional recipe for this is to look back to the 9000 model some 30 years ago now. Time flies folks but good design does not. Get rid of everything that is shiny and blinds. As an owner of a 9-5 NG Aero I curse the silver chrome ring around the Color Central Instrument and the piece of shiny metal over the colvebox/compartment. I just realize I start to spin in my own area of expertise. This posting is primarily on weight and new materials.

So to conclude this and how Saab Cars could attract the small minority of prospective Saab buyers is to stand out and be truly unique. The majority of car buyers would not even consider a SAAB but that is fine because there are enough buyers with an acquired taste for the unique and special.

– Build the next SAAB from bottom up in lightweight material aluminum and carbon fiber. Lower displacement engine and BHP but with the same driving experience

Skärmavbild 2014-06-11 kl. 10.04.15

– Make the car beat the current class leading car in terms of aerodynamic drag, the Opel Calibra with a Drag Coefficient (Cd) 0,26 number, if Opel could do it 25 years ago what could not be achieved today with better computers for design and fluid dynamics calculations.

– Ride (fly) on the aircraft heritage and set Saab apart from other manufacturers as an engineering driven company. name some of the top-of-the-line cars with distinctive names of famous SAAB planes just like the halo-Model VIGGEN some 15 years ago. A name is so much better for understanding and memorization for most people compared to a silly 9-5 or 9-3..

– Saab is not and will never be for the faint-hearted, put the brand in the same “category” as Alfa Romeo and Citroen. Swedish avant-garde. In this work do not hesitate to look back at old designs that never made it into production from Saabs DesignCenter. Make the Swedish touch from people who lives and breath the clean air here on the top of Europe. Talk to Eduard Gray, Björn Envall, Ola Granlund, Einar Hareide…..(Old Saab designers)  Build competent focus groups. SaabsUnited with our extensive international network must be valuable in this work. Our network of dealers, buyers, drivers, enthusiast, and collectors is G R E A T!

DSC_0479

Above is a drawing by Björn Envall, it is close t 20 years ago he did this but it encapsulate so much that is SAAB, new thinking, bright colors, extreme aerodynamics, low slung, and above all convertible.

DSC_0480 kopia

And here is something family oriented. With this post I just want to energize the whole Saab  community do not let the recent negativism let You down there will be a summer with bright light and blinding colors.

saabboy1
Member
2 years 3 months ago
The Ford concept is amazing but its still only a concept. I worry about durability when changing the weight of the car. How can they make the car safe in a crash when they reduce the weight by 800lbs? The future of car sales will be directly related to how energy efficient they are on the road. Fuel prices and taxes are going nowhere but UP! Today the price for a gallon of Super Unleaded in the North East USA is $4.19 I drive the NG 9-5 and it only likes super unleaded. The car is ridiculously heavy, and if… Read more »
andys
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Due to the fact that “NG” is heavy and iron, I like it.
It doesn’t look as a “matchbox”.

phermansson
Member
2 years 3 months ago
I listened to a seminar about the Airbus A350 and lightweight materials and airbus engineers stated that everything about lightweight has to do with energy absorption and energy distribution when faced with catastrophic failure. So you can make a light weight car that has the same impact strength as a big car if, the energy is absorbed according to a heavier car, but also if the energy is channeled away from the passenger cabin and distributed around the body of the car. The car would suffer much more damage, thats for sure, but the weight can be brought down significantly… Read more »
hans h
Member
2 years 3 months ago

I think your idea is Spot On.
That is exactly what Saab is/was. Lightweight, pioneering and driver oriented.

I hope NEVS are reading this. 🙂

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Selling them will depend on price. I also question durability over the long term. Hollow springs?

aus715
Member
2 years 3 months ago
Saab, in many people’s minds was always ‘quirky’, and ‘interesting’. If only Saab could be that again someday. Be brave, and be different. DO what Citroen (DS Pallas!!) did back in he 70s and see what happens. But above all, the car needs to look really nice, evoke an emotional response, and actually BE good. Light equals better but is so hard to achieve these days. We want all the toys, and they weigh. They really weigh. So, what do you do? Strip the car out and offer a basic experience? No one will buy it. No one. They all… Read more »
Doug R.
Guest
2 years 3 months ago
For the record Saab as a company has failed over and over and over,,,, They need to be bold… Different ” yes” with flavor and appeal. The need to identify who they are or I should say want to be. What segment of the market they need to enter.. what price range and what perception the brand is looked upon…Luxury premium.. etc. Will they be a company for the masses? What ever the case the model in the past failed again and again why? Labor cost,,, sales numbers, profit margins etc. If it is Labor Cost that must be addressed… Read more »
Jonny D
Member
2 years 3 months ago

With the relase of the Citroen C4 Cactus getting closer this kind of tech and thinking is already on the market.

Its going to take a huge effort form SAAB to catch up with the new weight saving ideas. Is weight saving this radical even a principle of the phoenix platform?!

Doug R.
Guest
2 years 3 months ago

Car companies plan and design years in advance… Its is a continuous effort… Saab is 8 years behind right now most likely maybe more.

Dagen Runt
Member
2 years 3 months ago
Weight is directly linked with fuel / energy consumption and emissions, so it’s natural that car makers are “on a diet” – especially in Europe where the European Union is setting strict emission levels for automakers. The latest platform of the Volkswagen Group is a good example of this. The new generations of VW Golf and its sisters, as well as the Passat that is coming out in 2015, are roughly a hundred kilograms lighter than their predecessors. If you compare a VW Golf of 2014 with an Opel Astra of today, there’s a difference of 200 kg between them.… Read more »
Eagle63
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Trued, you are so right!
I choose Saab many many years mainly BECAUSE of the aircraft connection. That connection was quite obvious in the 99, 900 and especially the dashboard design of the 9000, but also in the ‘pushbutton dash’ of the 9-3 (although overal quality was a little less than the 9000). Later models kinda lost that aircraft-link somewhat.
Indeed future Saabs should emphasize the aircraft heritage of the brand, like in aerodynamics and dashboards with aircraft-like instruments and displays. This would certainly appeal to lots of technology and aviation-minded people around the world.

Edonis
Member
2 years 3 months ago

” Saab is not and will never be for the faint-hearted, put the brand in the same “category” as Alfa Romeo and Citroen”

Although Alfas are known for their design and “passion”, they are also known for poor reliability and poor resale values, along with Citroën, which in addition are always seen at great discounts. But perhaps a cross between Alfa and Subaru?

saabdog
Member
2 years 3 months ago

I hope after everything Saab has been through over the past several years, there is still a Saab left to engineer Lightness & Aerodynamics into their autos. Sigh.

maanders
Member
2 years 3 months ago
Two thoughts here. 1) Innovative use of materials to reduce weight It is too bad that Koenigsegg was not able to purchase Saab back in 2009 as they are pioneering innovative techniques in this area (see the YouTube series of Drive episodes on Koenigsegg) that could move into general production vehicles. 2) Can Saab do this and result in a car a product price point that people will be willing to pay? This has always been the tightrope with Saab. They have had good engineers that have come up with safe and innovative designs, but often the additional design and… Read more »
saabluster
Member
2 years 3 months ago

” Make the car beat the current class leading car in terms of aerodynamic drag, the Opel Calibra with a Drag Coefficient (Cd) 0,26 number, if Opel could do it 25 years ago what could not be achieved today with better computers for design and fluid dynamics calculations.”

The Opel is not the best. Excluding the exotic XL1 the Tesla Model S is the best road going production car at .24. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Saab should examine closely what Tesla is doing and copy it.

saabluster
Member
2 years 3 months ago

I found it interesting to read Car and Driver’s new article about aerodynamics(Drag Queens). They said of the Tesla Model S “Clearly, this is the aerodynamic electric car that merits intense scrutiny by the world’s carmakers”.

Emmanuel
Member
2 years 3 months ago

URSAAB (1947) had a drag coefficient 0.32

I like the design of Tesla Model S. It looks very aerodynamic.
I like the the the front-end graphic of 9-3 more than that of Tesla’s Model S.
Also I think that the screen inside Model S is a potential distraction for the driver but someone who has driven Tesla Model S knows better than me.

phermansson
Member
2 years 3 months ago
You’re right, I’ve driven both the roadster and model s tesla and the screen is a night-vision killer! I had also expected that such big screens would react like for example and iphone 5s, but they dont, when you click and drag something it lags… for a car of that price, it feels almost cheap… I’d have to say that I’m much more impressed with what BMW is doing with its i 8 model both in terms of electric drive (plug-in hybrid) and with light-weight materials… It wont take long until Tesla is just another footnote in the history of… Read more »
saabluster
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Hmm. Funny cause I’ve driven the Model S at night and did not find it to be a night vision killer at all. Maybe the one you drove had the screen brightness set too high. I also did not have problems with lagging of the screen. I wouldn’t say it was as fast as my IPad Air but it was blazingly fast compared to my Ford Focus EV’s touch screen.

Steve C.
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Trued offered a nice diversion from the current NEVS news and his conclusions for future Saabs have merit. BTW, I think the Audi A5 and A7 are selling like “hotcakes.”

To the issue of lightweight being sturdy, just look at Jaguar Land Rover and their use of aluminum construction. The new Range Rover is 800 pounds ligher than the model it replaced and the unibody is stronger as well making it even more capable on and off road.

Romac
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Some interesting dreaming here @trued !
BTW – “the pilot/driver optimized workplace/cockpit” – odd, but the thing I *loved* about the classic 900’s all the way through to the OG 9-5 (in part) was that the co-pilot was catered for as well – window switches, central locking lock/unlock, interior light switch all located in the middle so both pilot and co-pilot could operate them. Anyone else think this way? I always rather despised BMW for their driver-centric dashboards where everything sloped away from the co-pilot.

GerritN
Member
2 years 3 months ago
Going lightweight is not a question of technology but rather of investment. My job is pretty much building nuclear and high energy particle detectors and we have moved to carbon fiber over the last 10 years because our support structures have to be light (less mass means that the nuclear reaction fragments/particles that you are trying to detect don’t get deflected so much) and very strong and accurate. Carbon fiber meets both these requirements. Unfortunately it is also a very expensive technology and it needs a lot of expertise to make a good part, much, much more than just pressing… Read more »
Thylmuc
Member
2 years 3 months ago

There are two sides of “leightweight”. Aside from the good one described above, there is also that issue with towing capacity. The 9-5 I TiD weighs 1730 kg, which will give him (in combination with an approval) a maximum towed mass for e.g. horse boxes equipped with a special coupling, of about 2050 kg at a maximum speed of 100 kmph, in Germany. The lighter the car, the lower the allowable towing mass.

3cyl
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Thylmuc. Is towing capacity in part a function of vehicle weight for reasons of stability? (i.e.to avoid the tail wagging the dog)?

saabluster
Member
2 years 3 months ago

Correct

wpDiscuz