Repost: SU Hi-Po Challenge #7, 8, 9 and 10

From Jeff: We got a few emails from members and I’ve been reading a lot of comments from people on the site that reminded me of the points I brought up in my proposal for a hybrid performance Saab way back in Winter 2011. Times have changed, but the concept still makes a lot of sense to me. Looking back at my proposal and looking at it under the lens that recent events provides, I certainly think the proposal needs some tweaking. While NEVS will most likely be building a pure EV to start, I really hope that they also build a halo concept model akin to the Porsche 918 hybrid I mention in the proposal or even better the Jaguar CX75 Concept, if just to show off all the groundbreaking tech that Saab engineers are working with and spread development costs out. As you may know, they’ll be selling a limited production of those for a monumental sum per car, but most have reportedly been spoken for (for nearly $1 million USD each). Saab needs a statement vehicle, and I think a limited production version of the proposal I’m describing – even only 10-20 – would go a long way for its image, perhaps not as flashy as the Jag but no less technologically innovative.

For a trip down memory lane or perhaps if you didn’t read it the first time, click on past the break. I think this proposal becomes a lot more relevant now that Saab’s assets are in NEVS’s hands.

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Find the 9-3 Independence Edition – Win a trip to Trollhattan

Saab have a new microsite – saabindependenceday.com – for the express purpose of offering you the chance to win a trip to Saab’s home in Trollhattan.

All you have to do (ha!) is identify the image in the mosaic that shows the Saab 9-3 Independence Edition convertible.

In case looking at that image gave you a headache, you can relax. The image on the Independence Day website is enlargeable – to an extent.

I’ve managed to find my own car, but I haven’t spotted the Indy Edition yet.

The competition winner will get:

……travel to and from Trollhättan, a factory tour, test drive, a meet-and-greet and a visit to the Saab Museum. The trip must be carried through during 2011. The winner will be chosen by a jury panel from Saab Automobile AB.

The competition is open to entries from anywhere in the world.

Check the Independence Day website for the full requirements and conditions.

Saab Switzerland launch ‘Ambassador’ competition

Saab Switzerland have launched a competition to coincide with the Geneva Motor Show. Entrants to the competition have an opportunity to become Saab Ambassadors for a month, participating in a number of exciting activities.

You have to be Swiss, and 18 years or older to enter.

Wulf has done a full translation of details over at Saabworld so if you’re not Swiss, but still curious, you might want to head over there to read the full details.

If you are Swiss and over 18, then you’ll want to head to the competition page and prepare your entry. There will be 8 winners, so your chances are reasonable.

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The winners get:

  • a Saab for a month,
  • a skiing experience with Kaj Zackrisson in the Alps,
  • experience a ride with the Saab Performance Team, and
  • participation in a cultural event (not specified).

Winners can bring three friends along to share the fun!

Wrap-up: The SU Hi-Po Challenge

I’m in two minds as to how things have gone with the SU Hi-Po Challenge.

I’m really pleased because it gave a few people the chance to express their thoughts on what high powered Saab should look like. We had everything from maxed-out Hirsch tuning to aftermarket co-operation to full-on engineering programs involving high-output electric motors being used in hybrid applications. They were all fun to read and they certainly provided food for thought.

On the other hand, the whole challenge was born out of a frustration that I had with a seemingly relentless stream of comments lambasting Saab for not having a high powered model like the one described in the criteria for the challenge. Most things born out of frustration or anger tend to lead to unsatisfying outcomes and I must admit that I’m still somewhat frustrated by the whole situation. The whole challenge was set up on a negative premise, with a bar so high that it was inevitable that I’d have to shoot down submissions that seemed unrealistic according to the criteria (read: all of them) and that’s a very unsatisfying thing for all concerned; it’s a horrible prospect for me as someone who invited submissions and it’s a horrible prospect for someone who’s taken the time to prepare a submission.

I’m glad it’s over.

The point

I don’t think a high-powered Saab is a priority. It’s like telling a subsistence farmer who’s got a small pot of savings to forget the ox he was going to buy and get a leather sofa instead.

I don’t believe Saab see a high-powered halo car as a priority, either, otherwise they’d be taking steps to build one. Instead, their business plan is centered around a core model range coming over the next 18 months and the expansion thereof by adding a smaller vehicle than the Saab 9-3 when they get the funds to do so. This plan is essential for building a company that can gain some stability and move on to do the really fancy stuff later.

Others think different.

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SU Hi-Po Challenge #15

Here is the final response to the SU Hi-Po Challenge.

It comes from Jake, who as you’ll all know from the Advertising competition we held last year, is a young bloke who’s always up for a challenge.

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Don’t think that this argument before you will be winning any awards. I’m a shallow 13-year-old. According to people with opinions on teenagers, we’re naive. Believe what you like, but this is what I think about a high-power Saab.

When I first saw the specs of the 9-3 Aero two years ago, I was impressed. Especially by the 0-60 figure. That car had Saab’s V6, so I would like to propose that it be brought back to the 9-3, but in a better form.

I don’t consider myself to be the kind of person that thinks that Saab needs a halo car. I believe that Saab could use a car that shows that they know how to be a valid competitor in the performance industry. The Turbo X and Aero XWD were liked by many a car reviewer. So, I ask: Why not bring back the Turbo X or Aero XWD, but better?

After all, Saab can’t just throw away the 2.8 V6 in the 9-3. I know that the V6 is no longer with us in the 9-3 (not in the US, at least – SW), but this plan calls for a revival.

Before I explain myself, Hyundai must come into play: Yes, Hyundai. The Sonata Turbo has a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4. The Saab 9-3’s 2.0t makes 210 hp. So, from practically the same displacement, the Sonata’s 2.0t makes 64 more hp. Now, let’s see here: Theoretically, if Saab’s V6 were made by Hyundai, what would the statistics say, if we were to use the ratio of 274 over 210?

Let’s do some math: 274 over 210=x over 280. x=265 1/3 hp. The guidelines given by Swade dictate that the car must have over 350 hp. Check. Thank you, Hyundai.

Unfortunately for us, though, sometimes theory isn’t what works well for the industry. So, we need to consider practical costs. Frankly, I think that Saab’s money was wasted on concept cars. I’d drop the concept car budget immediately to spare some money for this project. Concepts cost a ton of money, and don’t do squat for Saab, except for make people want to steal the concept; knowing that it’s never going to be made under Saab’s current financial situation.

And it’s not as though Saab didn’t tune engines to the extreme before: Before Saab-Scania, when Saab was independent, they made the GT850. That car was an intense little machine. They made a 52hp rally-winning machine out of an 841 cc three-cylinder, two-sroke engine. Back when cars had more than 100-150 hp to win rallies, the Saab was winning them with a measly and loud 52 horses. But those horses were many more than the standard 96! In fact, Saab kept tuning that engine until it practically exploded. And this was when Saab was even more of a niche than it is now, and when they were independent as well. Sure, I realize that Saab has more cars to develop now, and they’re still recovering from GM, but really, if Saab wanted to, they could stuff the V6 back into the 9-3, and tune it, so that it becomes the re-iteration of what the Jiffy-Pop motor was on the rally circuit in the ’60s: successful.

Saab needs to manufacture parts for the Turbo X, so why not put some of those parts into this car? Development will be extremely cheap. We had so much neat stuff in the Turbo X, from wheels, to diffuser, to XWD, and we can add all of that back again! The only real issues in development would be making sure the engine won’t explode, and tweaks, such as suspension, etc. The car should be done testing in a year. It could be a send-off to the current 9-3!

But, more has to come out of this car than just a fancily-tuned engined: Colin Chapman famously said: “Just add lightness.” Well, that. I say this: Take out trim. Any wood or fake carbon fiber must GO! No doorhandles! Door pulls will do just fine, thanks! And how about a MOMO steering wheel? Jus buy a bunch from MOMO, and glue on a Saab badge. Saab badges, glue, and steering wheels must not cost too much… Carbon-fiber seats are a must. They are expensive, and could be an option, but could also be partially bought using money saved from ripping out the A/C and navigation system.

Speaking of which, give the good people at Saab the navigation system that WOULD have been in this car for Christmas. (Or Hanukkah, of Kwanza…) Just… get rid of that amenity. Oh, and by the way, what are windows for? Yes, that’s right! Ventilation! How about getting rid of some A/C! If someone makes a stink, let it leave the cabin the old-fashioned way. Take out the sunroof. Give us titanium wheels. I know they’re expensive, but then again, so is a radio/navigation system and an A/C. I don’t mind if the wheels are from Koenigsegg. Or Spyker. Take out some carpets. Gift those to the wonderful people in Trollhattan, as well. An aluminum lower fascia, and a nice big spoiler wouldn’t hurt anything, either. Finally, ban the automatic transmission! That’s a fantastic waste of weight.

Price is important here. The Turbo X’s architecture is already paid off, as GM did all of the dirty work. So, the car should be able to sell for a lot less. With Saab, as much as they would like to be able to sell the car for a jacked-up price, because of supposed exclusivity, they really can’t afford to do so anymore. So, as a send-off to the current 9-3, I think this car could sell for roughly $37,500 in U.S. dollars. I think that 5,000-7,000 could be an appropriate number for this car.

Saab has made a car like this before, and they certainly have the funds and know-how to do it again. The industry has changed since 2008, and so has Saab. Now, let’s see this car happen, for the good of Saab!

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And I would just like to note that in six years of blogging, I believe this post contains the first reference ever made on this site to the act of farting. Given my fondness for the pasttime, it’s amazing it hasn’t come up before.

My thanks to Jake and to everyone else who has made a submission to this most dubious of challenges.

I’m going to take some time and post a wrap-up in the next few days.

SU Hi-Po Challenge #14

This response to the SU Hi-Po Challenge is from Luca S – from SaabWay Club, Italy

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Introduction.

In my opinion, a Saab still has to be considered as a comfortable and practical car, even if equipped with a rough and sporty character. A car that can drive you home safely and comfortably every evening after work, but which can also get a sporty astonishing driving experience. For that reason I’m not going to suggest a naked Saab, without carpets or electrical windows (Saab is not a Lotus); My idea is to upgrade the sporty side of a Saab, as they do in the past with the Viggen version, extending the work made with the Turbo-X, which for many people who love sporty cars, is thought to be not completely ended.

The model would be the 9-3 MY11,5 so we can make a limited “end-life” edition giving to the 9-3 model a glorious end life while waiting for the New 9-3 MY13. My idea is based on existing technology and components, which have already been tested and developed to solve money. Fantastic would be to have also the same version of the Cabrio Model, but what about the XWD? Also, I can’t imagine how the press could talk about a 350hp FWD car… For practicality I’ll consider the 9-3 Sport Sedan.

The car must have 350hp minimum…..

The better choice for Saab, due to it’s heritage and also to make some noise on the market would be the 2.0L Engine equipped obviously with XWD Transmission. Manual gearbox and also Automatic gearbox (with limited torque to conserve the reliability). This version should be properly tuned to achieve the requested power. The other choice could be obviously the return of the 2.8V6 on the Model 9-3 which can give a more powerful base to work on.

How you’ll achieve that sort of power, where you’ll source the engine from….

As I said on the previous point the engine would be a Saab Engine but it should be properly tuned to achieve the power. I’d work together with one of the most popular Saab Tuners which is MapTun. MapTun has already developed a performance kit which can obtain 325Hp on the 2,0L model and 340hp on the 2,8V6. I’m sure that with a minimal adjustment would it be possibile to obtain only 25 extra bhp on the 2,0L or 10 extra bhp on the 2,8V6, but I think that also the “standard” power offered by MapTun could be enough (Those are 45-60Hp more than the Turbo-X, not little).
MapTun has already made research & development to achieve that power so maybe only a little work together with Saab engineers could perfect the tuning.

Modifications you’ll do to the interior, exterior, suspension, etc…

For the interior I’d choose as supplier Hirsch. They have wonderful and High-Quality components.

  • Genuine Carbon Fiber trim Set, Leather Carbon Style Dashboard, sporty Steering Wheel, Leather Handle Set.. perfect to give to the interior a more Sporty and Luxury feeling.
  • Sporty Suspension kit by Hirsch because those are a bit more aggressive than the Aero stock, but not exagerately hard to let the Car be also comfortable on normal drive.
  • 345mm Brakes Kit from Hirsch (or the original Saab Turbo-X Brake kit which is also 345mm).
  • 18×8” Saab three spoke “Double Blade” wheels.
  • Standard Aero Bumpers with Hirsch HoneyComb Grill, front splitter and rear spoiler added. (If compatibile with the new MY11,5 Bumper)
  • Timeframe for testing this car….

    Some months. The car is equipped all with already tested and known componente so it needs only a minimum time to test that everything works properly with minimum adjustment only for the engine compart.

    Warrant the vehicle in all markets with confidence….

    I think it could be done without big problems. We all know the good work done from the most popular Saab tuners.

    Expected sale price, based on current pricing in your market….

    The Sale price is calculated on the list price in Italy for a 9-3 Sport-Sedan 2,0T XWD 210hp M6 adding the list price of the supplier’s kits (MapTun & Hirsch).

    Car list price (VAT Excl.) (35.300€) + MapTun Engine Tuning kit (VAT Excl.): 5.450€ + Hirsch components (VAT Excl.): 3300€. Total: 44,050€ + VAT. In Italy it would be circa 53.000€ VAT incl.

    53.000€ for a Saab 9-3 Sport-Sedan 2,0T XWD M6 325(350?)hp and 430-450Nm with wonderful exterior and interior Look and materials with incredibile performance and incredibile appeal; with its only 2,0L engine it could make again a big noise on the market. “The Saab Turbo is back!”.

    I think also that the suppliers could make better prices for a big quantity of parts so the price could be lower or it can stay at that level giving some profit to Saab; But I think that a car like this should be made more for the marketing than the profit.

    How many of these vehicles you think Saab could realistically sell….

    No idea, but for sure it would sell more than the Turbo-X or that the Aero 2,8XWD because of the insurance and petrol costs (especially in Europe). I’m Sure that an angry 2,0L Turbocharged High Performance Engine would be more successful in opposite to a “not so angry” 2,8V6 (Sorry V6 owners.. 😉

    How you’re going to fund the engineering, development and testing of this project….

    As I said before I think that those costs should be very minimal, so maybe Saab can afford the cost by its actual limited finance.

    You have to fit it in to the current program by telling us which current priority is less important than a performance car….

    The same. Anyway I think that at this moment Saab hasn’t really a low priority project compared to a Hi-Po Car. For this reason a think that Saab should buy existing components and already tested and developed performance kits to obtain a good result without a big investement. We’re lucky about that.

    To make the Saab buildable and marketable….

    I think that my proposal doesn’t need a specific answer to this question. The actual structure should be good enough.

    Su Hi-Po Challenge #13

    From kenthebeardman…..

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    Having followed some of the proposals submitted, I feel inclined to contribute with some thoughts which – for obvious reasons are not based on any market research results – but entirely on what would be my own personal preferences.

    Hence, appreciating the limitations and constraints, I would start with some presumptions.

    • I presume that the prospective buyer would possess sufficient self-worth and net-worth to consider such a vehicle.
    • That said, we are likely to primarily focus on a rather limited target group, probably aged 40 +, with a family, maybe a house owner, with the occasional need for extra luggage capacity.
    • I also presume that such a person would be less inclined to favour extreme exterior features like huge spoilers and street scraping side skirts, machinegun sounding exhaust systems and the like, since both good taste and tolerance tend to change in lieu of age, maturity, residential area environment and acceptance.
    • That the rationale for acquiring such a vehicle is for the pure pleasure of having it (heart rather than brain), its like buying a gold Rolex Submariner watch, thus not for the purpose of exhibitionism, or racing down the street. Still, the car should make an understated impression, and give its owner the knowledge and confidence that power and handling is there – if ever needed.
    • That the premium payable should be reasonable and affordable (maybe USD 20 K), whilst at the same time enable SAAB to cover production costs, certification costs, and certain inevitable development and testing costs. Such a limited series vehicle would never make SAAB that much better off financially, but if they at least would break even, it would most likely enhance the status of SAAB, giving signals as an able (to be) prestige car maker. This premium on top of the “standard” Aero version is percentagewise much less than the competition is charging.

    Thus, in terms of manufacturing, the following presumptions would be applicable:

    • Development costs should be kept at minimum by using in main available or already designed / engineered / tried and tested components.
    • The car should be possible to assemble at the same production line as the standard car.

    The current palette of colours would have to do, preventing investments in separate paint facilities, or disruptions by diverting steel body’s elsewhere for special painting.
    My ideal car would then – in line with the above – be a 9-5 XWD sedan or 9-5 XWD SC with:

    • Exterior features limited only to a polished stainless steel mesh grille insert (type Bentley Continental), Hirsch 20” wheels and quad exhausts, the already available Brembo brakes, and on the SC perhaps a slightly more pronounced and Hirsch inspired roof top spoiler.
    • An engine based on the already presented SAAB Aero X concept, i.e. the twin turbo 2,8 l V6, giving 400 hp, and for environmental reasons compatible with ethanol E85 fuel.
    • A suitable transmission, c.f. the 7-speed Aero X box.
    • The interior based on the current Aero model, but with selectable options for carbon or wooden dash, enhanced leather clad doors, enhanced stitching, etc. The current Aero seats are comfortable enough, so no need to go for Recaro or something extravagant.
    • The option to more flexibly combine existing interior colour combinations (top of dash, carpets) since I am allergic to black car interiors.

    So, that’s basically my perfect version of a “high performance” SAAB, capable and noticed without being flashy, at the same time not at shame beside the neighbour’s RS 6 or its Avant version.

    Funding ?

    An order book of maybe 1000 vehicles globally would hopefully avail sufficient capital (through either pre-payment or financing) go get the project off the ground.

    SU Hi-Po Challenge #12

    Time for another entry in the Saab Hi-Po Challenge. I’ve got a couple of these left and I’ll get them out in short order as I’d like to wrap this up soon.

    This one comes from TP in Denmark.

    ——

    I admit to be one of those performance addicts that also admires technological achievement that manifests itself in racing victories and records.

    I have owned 10 SAABs and upgraded nearly all of them to get more performance. My first car, a SAAB 99EMS was outfitted with a turbo engine running higher boost and a rally suspension. My wifes first car was a Sonett III and had the engine bored out to 1.8L and tuned to about 110HP, which made the nimble and light car perform phenomenally well.

    Fast forward to our two latest SAAB’s, a 9-5Aero tuned to 300HP and a 9-3Aero 2.0T with 245HP are quick and fun to drive cars, but I want to go further than that. I bought a Corvette Z06, because 1) SAAB no longer makes a sportscar, 2) It had the LeMans winning racing pedigree and supercar performance that I could not find even in the used market for the same money. I only use the Corvette for track days and autocross, it’s the only environment where its performance can be experienced and enjoyed. I also have to admit to leasing an Audi A4 Avant when it looked like SAAB might not survive and my 9-5Aero hit the max age allowed for company cars.

    Building a real business plan for a Halo car with limited knowledge and time is indeed impossible. So only a small framework of ideas is covered here. In my humble opinion the Hi-Po challenge has two different objectives and challenges:

    1) Marketing: Build a customer recognizable sustainable competitive advantage, manifested /personified by a HaloCar. The AeroX achieved this from a design perspective, but it needs to go further. What’s the Technology breakthrough underneath the skin and how can it be utilized to achieve a breakthrough result consumers can identify with?

    2) The passionate performance enthusiast car buyer who typically influences a lot of others to consider the brand they own: What can SAAB offer that’s compelling in the face of strong competition from the 3 Germans with their S,M,RS and AMG models or the cheaper Rally bread cars from Japan?

    The Marketing Halo car needs to make a Statement of what SAAB aspires to be, it’s a vision that encompass the key traits of the brand that SAAB owners identify with, here are some of the reasons why I chose to buy SAABs for so many years:

    • SAAB’s are about not making compromises.
    • Small displacement turbo engines offer Performance when you need it and lower fuel and maintenance costs. => adding electrical hybrid system is the natural extension of the SAAB Philosophy.
    • Handling that inspires confidence and control => All wheel drive as already manifested in the excellent XWD system is the natural extension (but comes at a weight and fuel penalty)
    • Functional and practical: The combi coupe from the 99 and early 900’s and 9000 where extremely versatile and sporty. The Sport Wagons are ok, but not as distinctive and sporty.
    • Safety and value. SAAB’s have always been amongst the safest cars to drive and they have also offered more value than their German counterparts.

    So keeping this in mind I propose the following two High PO vehicle lines developed and launched…….

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