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.
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.
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.
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.
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?