SAAB – DNA

Skärmavbild 2016-02-21 kl. 17.32.15

Some of us can say we have a Trollhättan DNA, well if You’re like Tim and me are born by parents raised on the banks of the Göta River that night be true. But just half a century of making SAAB cars the city could hardly have changed any of the pairs in the double helix we call the DNA.

The DNA that some people refers to as having anything to do with SAAB has its roots in the chassis dynamics. Form and shape of the cars has nothing to do with DNA since SAAB has never looked inte the rear mirror when making the new car models. Look at the 99 that replaced the 96 in the late 1960. The only thing that resembled the old car was the front wheel drive an the solid rear axle to some extent. So over the years the design has changed in a progressive way and one of my friends Björn Envall was in control of this for almost 30 years.

The SAAB – DNA is a complex mix of advanced applied and theoretical physics combined with the drivers feel and ability to respond to various forces and frequencies told by the car. When harmony is reached almost as when mastering an instrument. That is where the SAAB – DNA can be found. Some feel it instantaneously some not at all.

– Jörgen Trued, SU Historic Rally Team & S2AB Rally Team Manager & Driver

The DNA is in the perception and feel of the driving dynamic of the cars conveyed to the driver. Probably the best guy in the world in this field is another of my good ex. SAAB friends Magnus Roland. The principles he outlined for the driving dynamics of a SAAB is the DNA. That thinking was used by Magnus when he worked on the Le Mans Corvettes some 15 years ago but before that on the 9000 in particular. A rear axle geometry hat still is top notch and a truly affordable construction. There are manufacturers out there who are interested in this axle. Magnus has worked out some amazing constructions and 3 years ago in with his colleague in the S2AB AB, ex rally world champion Stig Blomqvist a 5 link rear axle for Audi. Or should we say put on an Audi 4S. In testdrives head to head with a standard Audi S4 Stig managed to drive the 5 link faster and with more accuracy and less need for micro adjustments. In collaboration with Benteler in Germany they decided to make a sales push with Audi. But apparently Ferdinand Piech himself stopped it all saying that it was not invented in house. The SAAB 9000 was developed with Stig´s driving style as an inspirational source. And The 9000 turned out to be a great performance car.

From what I have heard is that the NEVS corporation at least CEO Matthias Bergman is interested in the “SAAB-DNA” and the two guys who can inject that into their company is Magnus and Stig. To truly understand the underlaying principles for the fundamentals of chassi dynamics would need a presentation by Magnus himself. He is truly a genius when it comes to get to grips with the twilight-zone of classic mechanical engineering old school and the quantum mechanics and forces for beyond the average scope of a traditional car company. A company making average cars. The car going down the road and into a corner with a driver behind the wheel is a very complex system, truly a system of systems. All frequencies in the tire rubber to the G forces and the the forces in a microscopic level bonding the car to the road are hard to understand for a skilled to average skilled engineer. The driver feels sensations and experience the environment, this interface with the car is where the DNA might be hidden. But to do a truly great car that makes you a better driver requires deep expertise in applied and theoretical physics and psychology (Perception & Decision making). I have had many great discussions with Magnus on the topic of driver performance, he is the wiz of chassis physics and have the Man-Systems-Interaction knowledge.

 

https://youtu.be/khUDDMCgBr0

Most probably the best Swedish drivers through history both from the city of Örebro. Stig Blomqvist and Ronnie Petterson

https://youtu.be/SPmhit980e4

Freevalve Technology

I am not completely sure if this story is a look outside the box or another story of what could have been. It’s about a technology that is developed by Koenigsegg’s sister company Freevalve. They replace the camshafts in an engine with individually controlled air-operated valve actuators which leads to more power, greater flexibility, better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

The video is from 2013 but since Koenigsegg mentioned on their facebook page today that it “will come to the mainstream automotive sector soon” I thought it might be worth sharing it. To me this is one of the most fascinating technologies that Koenigsegg is working on, not only because the development car is a 9-5. It also shows us that while the electric car is promoted as the solution for future mobility we have not even optimized the internal combustion engine to the maximum.

Some new events added….

We get from time to time some invites and tips on different  Saab-events in our crew mailbox.
We will try our very best to put them in the event-calendar, but to make this easy and with correct info, we need the info in English.
What we need is basically WHAT it is, WHERE it is and WHO is organizing the event. If you write a few words ABOUT the event and if it COST something is also a good thing. This info I may ask you to send in English, so everybody here at SU can read it. If you have a link to a event-site (local forum or Facebook-event) or a flyer for the event this can be in a foreign language, and interested can use for example Google Translate if their not fluent with the local language.

But keep up sending us tips, and check the event calendar – maybe there will be a meeting in your area!
I’m sure there will be a lot of nice Saab-events in the coming mounts! 🙂

events

My Take On The Press Release

Yesterday NEVS went public with a plan to exit reconstruction. The core of the plan is that NEVS fully pays its debt to creditors with claims below SEK 500.000 while creditors with higher claims are paid half. Payment shall be executed in two steps. The first one sixty days after the agreement and the second one six months after. This is not really a new plan, they suggested this already six months ago but it was turned down by the creditors.

This of course turns up a few questions. Here is the most obvious ones for me.

– Why are they trying to exit reconstruction now?
In the press release they state that being in reconstruction makes it harder to negotiate with the two OEMs. There is of course quite a bit of truth in that. In reconstruction they are overlooked by the reconstructor who can have a lot of say in how things are done. This may not nessesarily ease negotiations with a future investor, of course depending on how that reconstructor sees things and how well he knows the business. Another point is that this extended reconstruction period is over soon. For another extension NEVS needs the approval of the creditors. If you are not 100% confident to get that you might look for a way out that keeps you alive. Which one is the bigger reason here – I don’t know. But I think that both things playing a role here.

– How does being in reconstruction affect negotiations?
Besides the issue I mentioned above it may also be that the investor wants NEVS to clean up their debt before they are willing to step in. From the point of an investor you want the money you bring in to start future business rather than to cover old claims. Any investment needed to start up development and then later production of cars is big enough and you won’t to add even more on that. It would only raise the risk level and push the point where you get your return on investment further away.

Read moreMy Take On The Press Release

Fantasy Land – Saab by Apple

Some of you might have read by now that Apple has a secret program named Project Titan to build an electric car. As a few curious photographers witnessed, they’ve leased Chrysler minivans driving all around Silicon Valley with advanced sensors. Several top auto industry personnel from Mercedes and Tesla have already been poached, not to mention visits by Apple executive visits to Austria– think Magna Steyr where they built all those 9-3 Convertibles. This may not mean Apple is 100% absolutely surely going to be coming out with a car, and even if they did it would be years away. They might just be investigating technologies that could end up in future personal electronics, or software interfaces for OEMs to integrate like their CarPlay system. But what if they were, and what if they could leapfrog ahead by aquiring the bankrupt assets of a certain automobile company in Sweden with a rich history of intelligent design and innovation, coupled with a huge factory capable of supplying the Euro Zone with 200,000 plus units?

appletestcar
One of the vans registered to Apple currently in testing around Silicon Valley.

Follow me here– what would an Apple car look like? Would people want a car designed by their computer company? I’ve seen it work in reverse, Porsche designed phones, but I don’t see the reverse ever truly working. The other silicon valley auto company producing electric cars, Tesla has made a name for themselves by launching an exclusive high end brand that is first and foremost about the core product, autos. While they might end up moving more into home power or grid power backup systems or other different fields, when you hear Tesla, you visualize a Model S. The same can’t be said for Apple.

Just like Mahindra sees the potential value in a prestigious brand with cache, Apple should see the advantages of acquiring such a dirt cheap and storied brand with such similar brand values. It wasn’t so long ago that Saab’s Global brand director Knut Simonsson told Autocar that they were trying to position themselves as the Apple of car brands. Before their demise, Saab was not about blending in, “We don’t want to be another Audi,” Simonsson said. In fact, Audi has been tying themselves to Google, not only through their MMI, but their self driving car experiments. Even if Apple wanted to start completely fresh with design and do something all new and different to what Saab had done before, just having the engineering chops, the crash facilities, the testing and state of the art production labs, the proximity to northern Sweden for winter testing, and most of all the bonafide legacy of well engineered Scandinavian design, it just makes sense.

Read moreFantasy Land – Saab by Apple

100 Cars And The Ongoing Saga

It is not easy to be a Saab blogger these days. There is not much happening, not many news to break. Ever since Mahindra was named as the potentioal new majority owner of NEVS last year things got even more quiet. Meanwhile the next deadline for the reconstruction NEVS is in at the moment comes closer. I’ve already heared some people say that NEVS should move faster to get this whole deal finally done. But then, there is one point that they miss: it is not up to NEVS anymore.

Given what I heared from various sources in and outside Sweden the deal with Mahindra is done in General but – again – the crucial issue is the brand name. Saab is pretty much fed up of reading their name in headlines reporting about financial problems or bankrupcy. While we all know that Saab AB and Saab Automobile are different companies not everybody does. And with Saab AB being a large defense company that is doing business all over the world it is not too helpful if you have to explain that it is another company that is in trouble all the time.

NEVS already had a hard time getting the rights to use the name and now, another debacle later, Saab AB has put up some pretty strong demands for any new owner that wants to use that name Saab for cars. It’s mostly about providing secure funding of NEVS and the development of their products. What they say is, to quote an infamous expression from a recent drama, “show me the money”. But since they learned from said recent drama they do not only want to see it, they also want to take it in their hands and count it to be really sure. While it may be true that without Spyker Saab would have been long gone, their track record before bankrupcy makes it even tougher right now to negotiate agreements. Be it with Saab AB or suppliers.

I have heared about some number that Saab AB came up with. I cannot tell how accurate that is but if the region is true it is not out of range given the investments that will be needed. So it is also a test to see how serious the investor is. Which is good. In all honesty, I don’t want to see another ray of light in Stallbacka that is too soon covered by black financial clouds.

Read more100 Cars And The Ongoing Saga

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