History is what it is, and we are the last ones being able to change it. Nevertheless it is for me interesting to see what it could have been.
In the winter 2010/11 we were quite impressed by videos like this and this. That was the demonstration of a game changer technology, which was at least two years ahead of the closest competitor, and what was most important for us, Saab fans, that technology was planned to be first seen in a Saab car.
This was an electric rear wheel axle, which was able to join fun to drive (torque vectoring) with fuel economy (89 g/km CO2). But months later the SWAN Saab Company entered into financial problems, and we all know what happened after that.
During the bankruptcy administration, AAM bought the Saab part of the e-AAM joint venture and searched for new customers for their system.
I’ve been since then wondering where will we see this system for the first time. Now I know that the first concept using the electric rear axle from AAM will be presented at the Geneva Motor Show.
Qoros, an equal joint venture partnership between Chery Automobile, China’s biggest independent automotive manufacturer, and Israel Corporation, a global industrial holding company (which also has a 29% ownership in Better Place), is trying to be the first Chinese company to enter the European market with success.
For that they will be presenting their firs production car, the Qoros 3 sedan and two concepts at the 83rd Geneva Motor Show in March 2013.
The sedan is an interesting car and I think it will help European people to start thinking differently about China produced cars, but the design is not my cup of tea.
More interesting for most of us is the Qoros 3 Cross Hybrid Concept.
The press release from Qoros reads as follows.
A combination of hybrid drive and all-wheel system for increased driving pleasure and efficiency
The development of advanced engineering innovations is a core strategic activity for the brand and the Qoros 3 Cross Hybrid Concept features an advanced hybrid drive system developed in partnership with leading electric drive systems specialist American Axle.
A three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 97 kW (130 bhp) is installed transversely at the front to drive the front wheels.
A 50 kW electric motor is housed between the luggage compartment floor and the rear axle, not only convenient for power transfer but also safely isolated from rear collision impacts. The motor is powered by a LG Chem lithium-ion battery with a maximum capacity of 1.9 kilowatt-hours.
A second electric motor – the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) – is mounted between the petrol engine and the transmission. Its role, as well as to start the petrol engine more discreetly – with less noise and less vibration – than a traditional starter motor, is to charge the rear electric motor’s dedicated battery so that the Qoros 3 Cross Hybrid Concept can operate continuously in all-wheel drive mode. And, during the most demanding driving, the ISG delivers additional power to the front axle, allowing the concept to deliver surprisingly swift performance: zero to 100 km/h is achieved in less than 7.0 seconds (provisional target, not yet verified).
Intelligent control software ensures seamless transition between petrol-engine front- wheel drive, electric motor rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive, depending on the most efficient mode to respond to the driver’s inputs and the prevailing road conditions.
The Qoros 3 Cross Hybrid Concept can be driven in pure-electric mode at a speed of up to 120 km/h, and for a maximum range of approximately four kilometres (provisional target, not yet verified).
Some sources have told me that this electric rear axle is the eXWD system developed partially by ex-Saab engineers that made us dream of a perfect world two years ago.
Call me nostalgic, but a Cross-hatch Concept was already presented a few years ago. Well the Qoros has 5 doors, but a 3-door hatch, would have been less conservative, for a concept.
But back to the Qoros 3 CHC. With a 1.9 kWh Battery, it will be a normal hybrid, so there will be no need of over-night charging. On the other side, you will only have 4 km of pure electric range, which is good if you have to leave early in the morning, and want to bother anybody with a noisy engine, but that’s all.
The linear acceleration data (0-100 in 7s) is quite OK for a 130 hp 1.2l three-pot engine, but you have to add 68 hp from the electric rear axle, and a few from the ISG, so it is more of a 200 hp system. 7 seconds is comparable to a petrol Q3 Quattro with 211hp or better than a X1 xDrive20i with 184hp.
The economy is not known, but AutoExpress says that it will be lower than 120g/km CO2 (to be confirmed). It is no break-trough figure but similar cars with a mechanical AWD system (Q3, X1, Qashqai, Tiguan) are rather on the 180 g/km class.
What I’ve missed from the pre-Geneva press release is that there is no word about the torque vectoring capabilities of the system, making the car even more interesting, but I hope to have more information after the official public presentation at the Geneva Motor show.
This shows us the potential of that small car company in the south of Sweden.
History did not want to allow this happen. The reasons have been different, some of them where self-made problems, but others where due to a very unfriendly environment. I would have loved to once again be able to buy a car with a Saab emblem on it that is a game changer as it once was the 99 Turbo.
Today we will have to wait and see what the new owner has in mind with Saab. Currently we know that they are planning to build ICE cars and Battery-EVs, will they also build interesting hybrid vehicles like this concept? History will tell.