Saab Friction Testing

Seeing the Munich Airport has just taken delivery of some 9-5 BioPower emergency vehicles to compliment their Saab friction testing vehicles, I thought it might be high time to mention a little about these fiction testers. Saab are pretty well known as pioneers in this field and Saab vehicles are still fitted out today as friction testing vehicles for use all around the world.
Saab Friction Tester
Saab Friction tester
Friction testing was initially done with a trailer system, called a skiddometer. I’m not kidding.
As the administrations of busy airports found that trailers had certain disadvantages SAAB started in the late sixties to develop a friction-measuring unit, the SAAB Friction Tester, SFT. A fifth wheel, the friction measuring wheel, was installed in the rear of a SAAB car model 99.
Whilst the earliest Saab friction testers were 99s, the principal has been applied to all Saab models since, with 900s, 9000s and 9-5s all getting the conversion at one time or another.
Saab Friction Tester
Why measure friction?
Flight Safety is the main reason for measuring friction. As the transport aeroplanes became larger it became also more important to check friction in a better way than making skid tests as mentioned above. Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, has taken a considerable part in the development of friction measuring technique.
Among reasons for friction measurements are:

    * Determine friction characteristics of runways under winter conditions
    * Verify friction characteristics of new or resurfaced runways
    * Assess periodically the slipperiness of paved runways when wet
    * Assess the effect on friction when drainage characteristics are poor
    * Assess friction of runways becoming slippery under unusual conditions

How friction testing works
The measuring wheel was connected to the rear wheels of the car via chains and sprocket wheels. This means that the skiddometer principle is used and some 80 to 85 per cent of the braking force is used as propelling force. By selecting the teeth on the sprocket wheels and the diameter of the measuring wheel suitably the desired slip could be obtained. This slip is selected for operational measurements in order to reduce tire wear.
The friction measurements come from a fifth wheel accessed through the hatchback and connected to the rear wheels. The fifth wheel is lowered down and forced onto the pavement with a down force of 300lbs. A built-in 10 to 15 percent slip helps continuously calculate the friction of the surface. The friction tester is used to determine the braking conditions aircraft should expect on a particular runway during winter snow and ice conditions. Arriving and departing aircraft use the numbers to determine the safety of the runway as well as the necessary braking distances required for their particular operation.
Modern friction testing Saabs are primarily customised by The Scandinavian Airport and Road Systems AB (SARSYS).
The SFT is programmed to measure in accordance with regulations issued by authorities such as ICAO, SCAA and the FAA and is designated for both operational and maintenance testing.

    * High-performance front-wheel drive car
    * Excellent maneuverability
    * First class working environment for the operator
    * Proven reliability in all climates, from the coldest parts of Northern Europe and Canada to very hot places like Saudi Arabia and Singapore
    * Large space in the rear provides unimpeded access to the measuring system, making service and maintenance work easy and comfortable.
    * Entire measuring system contained within the car, which retains it’s exceptional driving qualities.
    * Self-contained configuration provides speed and smoothness of operation.

In operational situations, the vehicle is immediately available for a measuring run. A runway friction report is available within just a few minutes after the start of the run. The SFT can be equipped with a TRACR II® system or radio data link to transmit friction data directly to a PC.
For maintenance measuring, which stipulates a wet runway, the SARSYS SFT is available with a watering system. The water tank has a volume sufficient for 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) of runway with a 1mm water layer.
Tradewind Scientific
Airport International
Fargo Airport

Saab 9-5 vs BMW 5-series

Sometimes the motoring journos don’t ‘get’ Saab. So it’s up to we Saab owners to sing the virtues of these little Swedish cars.
A three year old Saab 9-5 against a new 5-series? Any motoring journo worth his seat on the gravy train would scoff. Surely, given a choice, anyone would prefer the 5, yes?
Introducing Chris, an Aussie and for the last 12 months, the owner of a 2004 Saab 9-5 Aero.
Saab 9-5 Aero A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go for a drive in a friend’s 2006 BMW 525i. We had all been out for lunch and he didn’t feel like driving home so I was given the keys. My usual ride is a 2004 9-5 Aero with automatic transmission and I was keen to compare it to the “ultimate driving machine.”
Technically this is not a true comparison as the 5 series BMW is not a direct competitor of the 9-5. It is also a very new design and a newer car than mine. Although I didn’t ask I believe the BMW I drove featured professional navigation, electric seats, full blue tooth kit and probably a few more gadgets that I couldn’t see (or find a use for). My 9-5 Aero is stock standard and the only option I would want (but unfortunately don’t have) is the ventilated seats.
The exterior
This comes down to personal preference. I prefer the previous 5 series exterior design and am not attracted to the current one. Of all the new BMWs i think the 3 series Coupe is the only good looking one.
Saab 9-5 AeroVerdict- On this count you know I will always prefer the 9-5 because that is the car that I chose for myself. I think the 2004 model year was a great combination of body kit and alloys. The new 9-5 is growing on me but I still prefer the older version.
The Driver’s Seat
The BMW’s seats, with full electric adjustment and memory, lacked lateral and thigh support and felt too short. A previous ride in the front passenger seat had indicated that the seats were uncomfortable and this drive confimed it. Whilst I didn’t slide around, the seats just didn’t seem right. The 9-5 Aero’s sport seats on the other hand provide lots of support, are very comfortable on long drives and look brilliant in their two tone grey/black leather.

Read moreSaab 9-5 vs BMW 5-series

Saab are Swedish

I figured I’d better write that headline just in case anybody who’s important at Saab forgot. Or maybe it’s for those at GM who aren’t directly playing in the Saab sandbox, but make decisions that effect Saab.
It sounds pretty rudimentary, but sometimes it’s the simple things that get overlooked.
After writing the recent editorial piece at The Truth About Cars and after thinking about Bell Springsteen’s follow up piece a little, there was something he wrote that resonated with me:

I read in order to explore the main question that Mr. Wade often contemplates on his site. How does a brand that currently sells under 160k vehicles a year attract enough passionate owners that receives well over 5k unique visitors per day? Why is it that Saab drivers are so passionate about being Saab drivers?

Firstly, being the pedant that I am, I need to clarify those numbers. Saab sell around 130,000 vehicles per year. last year was their best ever at around 134,000. Also, sadly, this site attracts more like 4,000 individuals per day on average. It serves around 6,000 pages to those individuals, but there’s not as many as mentioned.

Onwards then, to the crux of the matter.
What gives this brand it’s mojo? Why do we Saab drivers love being Saab drivers? And is that in danger?

Read moreSaab are Swedish

Saab Everywhere Bike

I’m a little red-faced to say that I’m not much of an environmentalist. I recycle, my wife and I carpool most of the time, and I’ve installed a few energy-saver light bulbs. I’m pro-biofuels but I also love giving the car a bit of welly. And whilst I once enjoyed a bit of cycling, the mere thought of it nowadays makes my legs ache.
Gripen’s much more of a greenie than I am. I’m sure he’d ride a bike more often if he wasn’t out in the sprawling suburbia of LA. Given his interest, Gripen thought he’d check out Saab’s two-wheeled offering:

Saab has often been criticized by supporters and critics alike in recent years for bringing products to market “too late”. An oft-pointed-to example of this is how Saab entered the SUV market with the 9-7x just as the SUV market was cooling-off and transitioning apparently to “crossover” vehicles being the next hot trend.
The automotive industry seems to be cyclical in regards to trends. In the 1980s when the “minivan” was the hot segment to have an offering in, sales of coupés dropped drastically. Whilst families saw the practicality in owning a minivan, it eventually became a symbol of giving up on your dreams and trading-in your life and it was no longer fashionable.
Enter the Sport Utility Vehicle. You can still fit the wife and 2.5 kids and the family dog in there, but now it will look to others like you’re about to take the family up the side of Mount Kilimanjaro. After a while there was a backlash upon SUV owners and now we have the kinder, gentler “crossover” vehicle.
Saab’s missed/ignored most of these waves, but I’m pleased to report that Saab is releasing a ‘vehicle’ just as the trend is taking off. No, I’m not referring to their upcoming crossover. I’m referring to the Saab Everywhere Bike.
Saab Everywhere Bike
The Saab Everywhere Bike is a “city bike” designed by Dutch bicycle firm Biomega.
It features a foldable design which allows one to fold the bike small enough to fit in the smallest of Saab trunks (that of the convertible). Further, if one needed to take one’s bicycle into an elevator or a confined space like a stairwell the bike folds up small enough to do so as to not be unwieldy.
The bike also features eight gears with hidden cables (they’re internal to the frame), disc brakes, and includes an integrated cable bike lock. The cable is actually a structural element that acts as the downtube when the bike is unfolded, so if a thief were to cut the cable to steal the bike it’d be all but useless to him as it would just collapse when the thief tries to unfold it. Saab Bike RackAlso available is an optional carrier which affixes to the seat post and allows one to carry a light load .
The picture below is of another related Biomega product, the Puma Urban Mobility bike (US$775), and you can see what the carrier looks like attached to the bike.
Puma Bike
I’ve looked-into it and though some of Saab’s automotive competition have offered bicycles in the past, they oftentimes are either straight road (race) bicycles or high-tech mountain bikes. Saab is the only one offering a “city bike” as best as I can tell. Audi used to sell a couple of mountain bikes designed by their Quattro GmbH division but I don’t think they sell them anymore, Mercedes-Benz has a “hybrid” bike, which is a bicycle with electric motor assist, and I’m pretty sure F.A. Porsche design used to sell a road bicycle.
The Saab Everywhere Bike is available from Saab Expressions for SEK10.705,000; €1 190,00; £812,50; or US$1,169.00 (from the U.S. Saab Expressions store. The European Saab Expressions store is charging over US$1,500.00) depending on your local currency plus shipping charges. The carrier doesn’t appear to be available to U.S. buyers unless it’s ordered through the non-U.S. Saab Expressions store and shipped internationally ($90 plus shipping/handling). Those of you in Great Britain might be able to save some shipping costs by ordering the bike and carrier through Elkparts, which is also selling the bike for less (£749,00) than Saab Expressions.
Cycling is a great way to get exercise and avoid a lot of urban congestion. The Saab Everywhere Bike is the right product at the right time from Saab.
Saab Everywhere Bike

Saab and Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound

The 2008 Saab 9-3 is making it’s way into showrooms in various locations at the moment. One thing that you won’t see just yet, however, is the Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound system. For the US market at least, it won’t be available until later in the model year. I’m unsure about other markets.
For those audiophiles that are keen on the idea, here’s a look at what you’ll get. This is the briefing that the bloke who’ll sell it to you got.
Click on each image to enlarge.
Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound
Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound
Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound
Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound
Bose Centerpoint Surround Sound

Saab Turbo X – first pictures

UPDATE: For all the information about the Turbo-X in one entry, including specs, pictures and video, click here.
Saab Turbo X
Once again the Djup Strupe conglomerate – my group of Saab insiders – has come to the party. And this time Monsieur Strupe brought pictures!
These are the first images of the Turbo X, which will be unveiled this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. This has been an eagerly anticipated model and given its limited numbers it’s sure to be an instant collectable.
It looks absolutely beautiful. Click on the images to enlarge.
Saab Turbo X
Saab Turbo X
The stuff we know so far, pending receipt of an official press release:
The Saab Turbo X is a special, limited edition release to mark the debut of Saab’s new XWD system. Sourced from Haldex, this latest generation system is capable of splitting power between front and rear wheels, as well as from side to side at the rear thanks to a new electronic limited slip differential (eLSD).
The system allows for extraordinary roadholding. Saab’s own testing on a slalom course during development showed the system outpacing German and Japanese competition, including a special test against the Porsche 911 Turbo.
The Saab Turbo X will feature an uprated version of the 2.8 litre V6 engine producing 280hp and 400Nm of torque and will do the 0-100 sprint in 5.7 seconds. All models produced are believe to be manual transmission only. Automatic IS available!
The Saab Turbo X will feature a unique black paint finish, special edition 19″ wheels (18″ for North America) and unique interior trim as seen in the shot above. There’s also new body treatment front and rear with a deeper front bumper, new rear deck spoiler and new dual exhaust tailpipe treatment.
The model will be limited to 2,000 units world-wide and these will include both Sport Sedans and SportCombis. The Saab Turbo X is expected to be available for sale early in 2008.

Saab Quality Ratings Problems

If you owned a 2004 Saab 9-3 and you sold it yesterday you’d be pretty happy right now.
As if resale value issues weren’t tough enough already, JD Power released their vehicle dependability ratings earlier today. These ratings rank vehicles that are three years old based on problems recorded per 100 vehicles. The early Saab 9-3 Sport Sedans have suffered with a poor anecdotal reputation and it seems that reputation now has some numbers to back it up.
The industry average, as recorded by JD Power, was 216 problems per 100 vehicles. Saab ranked quite poorly with 319 problems per 100 vehicles.
It could have been worse. We could be cheering for Isuzu, Suzuki or Land Rover. Those three did worse.
These rankings should improve over the next couple of years for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, problems with the 9-3 did get sorted a little more in the 2005 and 2006 years. Secondly, a larger number of non-9-3 vehicles should take up some numbers. The 9-5 was quite solid all this time, but it occupies such a small proportion of Saab’s sales in the US that it hardly makes a dent. Next year, though, the first 9-2x’s will be three years old and the inclusion of 9-7x and 9-2x figures over the coming years should temper things a bit.

Hirsch carbon leather interior for Saab 9-3

Hirsch logo File this under “Things the US market can’t get that their customers probably wish they could”.
I first wrote about the Hirsch carbon leather dash kit a little while ago. I’ve just now arrived home and found an email from Hirsch in my inbox with this detail picture of the dash.
One of the criticisms of the 9-3 is the standard of materials inside the vehicle. The seats are fine and almost everything else is fine but that dash can have a sea-of-plastic feel to it. If I had a 2007 model 9-3 then I’d be doing backflips to get the money for this. Beeewdiful!
Click to enlarge.
Hirsch Carbon Leather dash
And here’s the blurb from Hirsch:

The new Hirsch Performance leather instrument panel for the Saab 9-3 MY07- brings a completely new feeling to the car’s interior. Just as its predecessor, the new instrument panel is leather-covered with black leather of the highest quality. New for this year is the combination of black full grain leather with a new leather quality called carbon leather.
Carbon leather is a natural leather, embossed with a carbon-fibrestructure, that allows a truly unique leather instrument panel design. It can be treated and maintained just like normal leather. For a very special touch for the Saab 9-3’s cockpit, the new carbon leather instrument panel is an excellent choice.
Glare is minimised through the use of black leather, making this leather instrument panel ideal for both night driving and sunny environments.
The leather instrument panel can be ordered separately, or as part of an interior package together with the Hirsch Performance Aluminium Pedals.

There’s no price quoted on the Hirsch website for this product, or for the combined interior trim kit that includes the aluminium pedals. But the pedals alone cost 230GBP so I assume this isn’t a cheap upgrade.
But it does look sooooooo good.
Hirsch CL dash

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