What it could have been, the future of the eAAM electric rear axle.

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.

Qoros 3 Cross Hybrid Concept - front qtr wheels turned

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.

22 thoughts on “What it could have been, the future of the eAAM electric rear axle.”

  1. This is beyond depressing Red. I’m praying that NEVS has plans to use the eAAM. If they don’t, I’ll be the first to publicly flog them. Besides the obvious use in a FWD car like the ICE powered 9-3, they could make use of it in an EV1 or EV2 quite easily, and tie the whole thing together with torque vectoring. I get the whole idea that they want to source parts locally in China, but there’s no reason they can’t simply manufacture the same units there. At least it’s designed and tested in Sweden, that bit gives me much more confidence.

    I’m really glad you’re covering this.

    • Couldn’t agree more. To come out with ICE Saabs and not offer eAAM as an alternative would be…
      Surely Qoros can’t have exclusive rights to the technology?

  2. Key here is if it is a plug-in version or not. The Volvo V60 plugin-hybrid is a fantastic car and most likely my next company car. Just so sad that Saab did not finish any of their plans….

  3. Red: I’m glad you’re covering this too. Jeff: It truly is depressing. The whole thing is depressing actually—-the whole Saab saga. The fact that Saab engineers were ready to build a car around this—-it’s another one of many examples of Saab’s forward thinking, ingenuity, determination to put plans into action—-in other words, a relatively small group in the industry, with a relatively small budget to work with—-always seemed able to outhustle the others and provide what some of us wanted in our cars, frankly, against the odds. It just makes me crazy that “The General” owned Saab for so long—-and couldn’t recognize the opportunity that was already in their portfolio. As usual, they (GM) utterly misunderstood and misused their own resource. It’s disturbing to say the least. The wasted talent—-it’s maddening to think about. Always, terrific engineers and line workers, horrific business sense within their management that doomed them.

    • It’s not that simple Angelo. Most of the idiotic decisions related to Saab were actually the result of some very high level Swedish execs. AAM is actually dependent on GM sales to exist, and is closely tied to GM’s operations. Try not to forget what AAM stands for.

      • I understand that—-was actually thinking about it in a parallel way. I think if General Motors had visionaries instead of bean counters leading them—-as recently as 2009, when they were literally falling apart, they could have reorganized in a much different way than they did—-actually doing things the smart way and preserving some of their products instead of flushing it all away and paring down to what I call “Cheapie, Clone, Old Man and Rich Old Man (Chevy, GMC Trucks, Buick and Cadillac). Jeff—-GM spent a fortune developing the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice—-and those cars were very well received. They were aborted before they even started to pay dividends. They had just done an overhaul of Saturn, using some pretty nice Opel baselines—–flushed those down the toilet too, like a junkie flushes heroine down when cops are kicking in the door. GM should have folded the best of Saturn into Saab—-because Saab was more established and with a higher perceived image than Saturn—-luxury. They could have kept the best Saturn dealers in areas where Saab wasn’t served or was underserved. The “new” Saab line would have automatically had an entry level car and a roadster, along with a smaller, more affordable SUV. The great people at Saab could have done a very quick transformation of the designs to roll them out, then carefully go back and spend more time on each one in subsequent model years. Painful? Yes. But it would have worked with the right promotional push. Suddenly, this desirable European brand would be flush with new models in the U.S. The H3 Hummer could have been sold through GMC Trucks. In fact, even the Holden Pontiac GTO could have gone to Buick as a latter day Grand National. It just seems as though GM pissed away some of the most exciting cars in their line and plowed a fortune into pushing some new ones that have completely flopped—–and they gave up their European division, Saab, their import fighter, Saturn, their sporty division, Pontiac—-frankly, years earlier, their better engineering/better designed cars, Oldsmobile—-the list goes on. They really don’t seem to get it there. And their market share continues to slide, even as they report “improved sales.” That’s all well and good, except their competitors are doing better.

  4. It’s interesting that there are a lot of former Saab employees now working for Qoros, for example Roger Malkusson (Chief Engineer of Vehicle Integration), Eric Geers (Executive Director Communications) and a lot of engineers from Saab’s vehicle safety division. In total, there are around twenty people from Saab now working for Qoros, I believe.

  5. Interesting but depressing news… The strength of SAAB was – and should be – the integrity of advanced and untraditional tech like this and a unique, independent and logical design. This Chinese car is ugly and conservative in its design.
    My (only) hope is that NEVS will understand the importance of SAABs hybrid-eAAM- technology AND the importance of a clean logical design with the details and wholeness reflecting each other.

    • Mr Hildebrand, the maker of the new Mini was able to make a good reincarnation of the old Mini, but now he had a clean canvas, and the outcome has been too conservative and boring, I’m missing the soul of the design.

  6. No torque vectoring is planned/expected for this Qoros system. That’s not to say it won’t come in the future.
    Also, main reason the concept is five doors not three, is there is absolutely now, zero, zilch market for 3dr cars in China, where over 50% of Qoros products will be sold.

    • Graeme,
      they are selling this car as a concept, as well as the 9-3x or the AeroX. Yes it is an almost production ready concept, but still a concept.

      If they wan’t to present the brand in Geneva, where everyone shows how cool his brand is, a 3 door hatch concept would have been more exciting, no matter if the final car is a 3 door or a 5 door. Only my opinion.

  7. Yes but Red, this may be billed as a concept, but in reality it is a production ready model. It’s not like the Aero X or even the original 9-3X concept, this is not blue sky thinking but blue collar reality

  8. It would be interesting to also find out if this car would meet euro safety standards the Chery J11 when crash tested in Australia was a very low safety score but was given a reasonable score for low emissions, this car looks very much like the same car that was tested

  9. Much irrelevant, but the Qoros cars look remarkably dull, like a bad copy of mass Nissans. Previously, all vehicles equipped with modern technology had a distinctive look (like Tesla or the Volt). It should not be easy for Eric Geers to explain the Qoros heritage to the customers.

    Even more painful is to see Saab tech in such uninspired cars.

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