Talking with Hirsch in Geneva

During the press days at the Geneva Auto show I had a long talk with Manfred from Hirsch, we talked about engines and engine tuning, and after that I had a better picture on what they do and why they do it.

Saab changed the 2L engine in the 9-5 between MY ’10 and MY ’11. The engine from MY’10 has the GM internal code of LDK and the engine of MY’11 is called LHU. The differences between both engines are not big, but enough for Hirsch to have to redo all the work done with the LDK engine.

Those engines have a different engine control units. While the older one uses a Bosch Motronic ECU, the newer engine uses the GM-Global ECU, although I’ve sometimes heard the name Saab system 3.

This (I will call it System 3) ECU was developed by the guys of GM Powertrain Sweden in Södertälje, nearby Stockholm.

Many of you may remember that GM sold the Saab engine production facilities in Södertälje in 2008 to the Austrian company AVL. Well the engineering department that developed System 3 was also sold to AVL.

Here are some important passages from the press release in 2008.

The sale of the Södertälje Powertrain organization also announced today includes the site, buildings and the transfer of the employees to AVL, as well as an Engineering Service Agreement for the first two years of AVL’s ownership, said Kjell ac Bergstrom, Executive Director GM Powertrain Sweden.

The service agreement secures GM Powertrain Sweden uninterrupted access to the expertise and services at Södertälje Powertrain Engineering AB (SPEAB).
SPEAB currently has 117 employees and an annual turnover of 150 MSEK. It will continue to deliver services such as Trionic Engine Management System development and calibration to the GM Group.

Putting all together, for me System 3 is the latest, and sadly last, incarnation of the Trionic engine management.

Going back to Hirsch, Hirsch created last year an engine upgrade for the LDK, but only for the automatic transmission. From last summer they had to redo the whole work, as the System 3 and the Bosch Motronic do the same things in a completely different way.

But for those interested, the engine upgrade for the LHU and LHU\BP, manual and automatic, FWD and XWD, is ready and the homologation is being done at this moment in Sweden. The upgrade should be available at the beginning of April.

They are planing to get this upgrade also for the 9-3 Griffin, but the power amount available on the 9-3 could vary from the value of the 9-5.

Hirsch has released two engine upgrades for the three TTiD4 engine variants that the 9-3 offers. The TTiD4(160) and the TTiD4(180) can be upgraded to 200 hp, the TTiD4(130) on the other side only to 170 hp. The reason is quite simple, Saab uses smaller brake discs on the TTiD4 and with those brake disks the amount of legally allowed power of the car is limited to 170hp.

In other words, the smaller engine could be upgraded to 200hp but then you would have to change the brakes otherwise the car loses the homologation and can not be driven on public roads.

The same will happen with the new 9-3Griffin petrol with 163hp, it mounts smaller brakes, and thus the maximum allowed power will be less than its 220hp counterpart.

18 thoughts on “Talking with Hirsch in Geneva”

    • “A business plan might not hold and thus, the EIB may require the loan of 3.5 billion kronor from the Swedish government, which guaranteed the loan. It says he told Dagens Industri.

      – I can manage to finance a half billion crowns for Saab to manage its capital this year.


      I feel like he’s just trying to grease the wheels for the moment where he steps in and starts giving Saab some money to fund operations. Don’t think this is a big alarm bell, more a gentle reminder that he’s prepared behind the scenes to raise cash. I wouldn’t be too worried about Saab’s business plan just yet.

    • It’s hard to comment without knowing the terms of the EIB loan – under what conditions can it be recalled, etc.

      Sounds like TT doing what they normally do, to me. But of course, Saab have to sell cars first and foremost.

        • +1

          I ithink this is a way for Antonov to speed up the process at EIB to let him be owner.

          To bad Saab once again gets bad publicity.

      • Sneak peak at DI thursday paper WHOLE front page a picture of Vladimir.
        Text saying;
        Vladimir Antonov warns in an exclusive interview:
        Acute crisis threatens SAAB
        Saab Automoble is risking major capitalproblems at the end of this year, That is said by the russian banker Vladimir Antonov who does not believe in the goals of selling 80000 cars. “There is a sinister black cloud over Saab abd it is not going to be easy to attract insvestors”

        • You’re close to Antonov, Jorgen. Perhaps you can ask why he’s making speculative remarks like this to the Swedish press, who he knows are trigger happy when it comes to Saab. What’s his motive?

          • I don’t know, but I don’t understand why Antonov keeps spreading FUD. If he wants to help Saab, he should do it in the background, and not by giving exclusive interviews to DI.

        • This doesn´t help SAAB. If VA is a friend of SAAB he should know what swedish press does with this infos or interviews.

  1. Great post, RedJ. It’s a good indicator of the work that Hirsch have to do and why some tunes go quicker than others.

  2. This is the kind of news that Saab can damage most, as it might harm sales and raise reluctiance among buyers further. Absolutely incredible and unacceptable, that a friend of the company talks like that publiciely. He should get stopped immediately. That potential problems might loom is no wonder, given the disappointing sales development. But that has to be dealt with immediately and without the press. An enterpreneur must handle this timely and proactively.

  3. Fun to see more Saab EMS in our cars, I wonder when Hirsch will do a 300bhp upgrade like the americans have done with similar engines + a larger (yet factory) turbocharger. 🙂

  4. My understanding is that by selling the Saab engine production facilities GM did everything possible to tear apart Saab before closing or selling Saab. GM didn’t need Södertälje anymore because they had already acquired and transferred all available Saab engine technology. However, Saab as a standalone company do need such facilities.
    I really admire Saab’s big effort to stand on their feet. And this is great, really great.
    Saab as a small company do not pose any serious threat to GM.
    However, they left behind a “handicapped” athlete who tries to win back a race.
    Long live Saab!
    Long live Victor.

    PS: I can’t understand Antonov’s statement. What is he trying to achieve by such announcements?

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