“Not so fast” on future Saab 9-4x diesel and BioPower

Yesterday, I wrote about the Norwegian version of the Saab 9-4x press release, quoting as follows:

From August 2011, the 9-4X [will] also [be] offered to customers in Europe and the world at large. The engine range will eventually also include diesel engines, better adapted to a Norwegian tax regime than the powerful V6 petrol engines. In the Nordic countries will also BioPower engines currently being developed.

This gave us some hope that Saab might eventually fit a diesel into the Saab 9-4x, which is considered essential for the European market.

They may still do so, too, but that hope faded a little today.

Auto Motor and Sport have a reporter in the US, who’s over there to drive the General’s 9-4x sister vehicle, the Cadillac SRX. Seeing he was over there, he enquired about the diesel proposition and was told by one of the Cadillac people that there were no preparations being made for the fitment of diesel at the factory where both vehicles will be made.

Further to that, however, is the amendment of the Norwegian press release that was the trigger for this whole issue.

The paragraph that I quoted above has now been edited out of the release. It seems they must have been working from an early draft that slipped through the net (It happens more often that you would think).

So, all of you looking for 9-4x diesels (with more MPGiesels – thanks James May) – stand down.

Saab looking at diesel and BioPower for the 9-4x

The Saab 9-4x press releases came out yesterday and as predicted, the two engines at release were a normally aspirated 3.0V6 making 265hp and the turbocharged 2.8V6 making 300hp.

There was no mention of a diesel or BioPower engine in the global release published yesterday, but it has been noted in comments that the Norwegian press release mentions both for the Saab 9-4x in the future.

This is a Googletrans from the Norwegian press release:

From August 2011, the 9-4X [will] also [be] offered to customers in Europe and the world at large. The engine range will eventually also include diesel engines, better adapted to a Norwegian tax regime than the powerful V6 petrol engines. In the Nordic countries will also BioPower engines currently being developed.

The mention of BioPower is interesting because it brings to life the possibility of adapting Saab’s 2.0T BioPower engine currently in the Saab 9-5. Whilst having less power than the 3.0V6 base engine, it would have more Saab-like driving characteristics and less weight.

‘Arild’ first noticed this in Norwegian press articles about the 9-4x where diesels were specifically mentioned, and writers of those articles attributed it to the Saab press release. A look at the Norwegian version of the release confirmed what they were saying (thanks Arild and Me).

They won’t be available at launch, obviously, but it’s encouraging to hear they’re in the pipeline.

Swedish reports about 9-4x without diesel are not news

Vibilgare has a report today about the Saab 9-4x launching without a diesel option.

Can I just say this again: this is not news.

I’ve published about the Saab 9-4x engine lineup a number of times (most recently just a week ago) and whilst the confirmed information I’ve shared here has been specifically for the US market, I can tell you now that to the best of my knowledge, the situation is no different in other markets.

At launch, the Saab 9-4x will come with a base engine that is a 3.0litre normally aspirated six cylinder, and an Aero engine that is the 2.8litre turbo V6 that we’re all familiar with already.

And no, there’s no 2.0T four cylinder engine at launch, either, to the best of my knowledge. Not in the US, at least, and I’ll be very (pleasantly) surprised if it turns up elsewhere at launch.

Obviously, this is going to effect the marketability of the car in Europe but for now, this is what Saab are stuck with.

The good news is that the vehicle is still coming and that’s what should be focused on. North America has always been its main target and it will be good for that market with gasoline-only engines.

My feeling is that if Saab are to source a diesel engine for future use in Europe, it would have to be one that is capable of being sold in the US as well. There’s little point in going to the trouble and cost of re-engineering the car for a different engine and deliberately limiting its marketability at the same time. Euro-only sales of a Saab SUV would most likely not justify the cost.

Press Release: Saab’s product offensive continues (Paris Motor Show)

2010 Paris Motor Show: Saab Highlights

——

  • Public debut: Saab 9-3 ePower, first EV from Saab
  • Class-leading 119 g/km CO2 emissions from latest Saab 9-3 diesels
  • New BioPower, diesel and gasoline engines expand Saab 9-5 line-up

Trollhättan, Sweden: Since the re-birth as an independent company just seven months ago, Saab has launched the all-new 9-5 sedan, concentrated all facilities in Sweden, ramped up production, rebuilt the global sales network, and formed new strategic business partnerships.

Looking ahead, there will be two more new products to launch in the next 12 months. Saab’s business plan is on track. In short, the future for Saab Automobile has never looked brighter.

On the stand at this year’s Paris Motor Show, zero-emissions driving and class-leading low CO2 levels are among the eco-benefits on offer from Saab.

Taking center stage and making its public debut, the unique Saab 9-3 ePower is an all-electric version of the 9-3 SportCombi. It is Saab’s first step towards developing an all-electric vehicle and a test fleet of 70 cars will begin user trials in Sweden early next year.

On sale now are the latest 180 hp/132 kW 2.0TTiD Saab 9-3 Sport Sedans, which deliver a class-leading CO2 rating of only 119 g/km. More powerful, two-stage turbocharging is standard for all diesel models, while fuel economy and emissions are improved an average by10 percent across the entire range,

Saab also extends it market leadership in biofuel applications with the introduction of a 220 hp/162 kW, 2.0-liter BioPower engine for the new Saab 9-5 sedan. A more powerful, 190 hp/140 kW, 2.0-liter turbo diesel and a rightsized, 180 hp/132 kW, 1.6-liter gasoline turbo further extend the 9-5’s powertrain line-up.

Saab 9-3 ePower: midsized sports combi with zero emissions
Saab Automobile takes its first step towards developing an all-electric vehicle with the unique Saab 9-3 ePower, a Saab 9-3 SportCombi designed to offer a zero-emissions driving range greater than any EV currently in production.

Read more

Allt om Motor: All Saab diesels to emit under 120g/kg CO2 (eventually)

SEE ADDENDUM, below…..

There’s an interview with Saab product manager, Magnus Hansson, appearing on the Swedish site, Allt om Motor. It’s primarily about the Saab 9-5 and how it will meet various market requirements.
One of those market needs is low emissions. People are taxed on these in some countries and governments have certain fleet purchasing rules based on them as well.
Hansson gave out some interesting information in this interview, stating the following:

All three diesel versions of 120, 150 and 190 horsepower will meet 120-gram limit within twelve months of the manual version, reveals Magnus Hansson. And with a 190-horsepower diesel engine under 120 grams, we can not compromise with driving pleasure and Saab’s core values, with a clear direction for Volvo and Volkswagen are performing great and efficient, but ‘tired’ cars.

All three diesels under 120grams???
Now, bear in mind that’s a Googletrans, but I did get tipped off about this story by Anders M, who also included a note about all three diesels’ emissions when he sent the tip.
I’m just wondering if there’s isn’t something lost in translation here, something we’re missing.
If it’s correct, then diesel fans really do have something to look forward to, as does Saab. A new 9-5 making 190hp and getting under the 120g limbo stick will be quite a popular car with the business class set, I’d imagine.
ADDENDUM
Advice via comments from those who speak the lingo indicates that this news relates to diesels in the 9-3 range of vehicles.
The sub-120 diesel for a Saab 9-5 will not come until after 2011.

Diesel paying its way quicker than hybrids?

Trollhattan Saab – May, 2005

Jay Spenchian should really be pushing for GM to test the diesel-waters in the US for the 9-3 Sport Sedan, Sport Combi and Convertible. We’re right at the beginning of a new dawn for diesel and Saab is well positioned to take advantage.

Trollhattan Saab – Sept 2005:

I mentioned here the other day that Bob Lutz doesn’t think diesels are a certainty for the US, though I’m pretty certain that Saab’s competition will be introducing them when the legislation makes the commercial environment better suited. A failure on GM’s part to get this right will lead to a huge loss of marketshare. There’s been enough comments here and elsewhere to make this decision an apparent no-brainer. The old adage that American customers wouldn’t accept them because they’re scarred by bad memories of diesels is rightly squished by The AutoProphet when he says that “the myth would be dispelled the moment that modern diesel engine cars from Europe [were] demonstrated here.”

Edmunds – January 2006:

While diesel clearly isn’t the answer to everyone’s prayers, the U.S. market is unquestionably missing out on the modern diesel phenomenon. Bountiful torque, excellent refinement and a huge range are qualities well suited to the American highway. It is surely time to put away the prejudices of the 1970s and embrace the modern diesel engine.

SaabUSA – May 2006:

Before we make a strong – and expensive – push to make Saab diesels compliant with US regulations and bring it over here, we have to make sure that it is worth the effort for the relatively small brand that we are.
Currently, we are not convinced that such is the case.

Trollhattan Saab – April 2007:

I kept writing about this ad infinitum until I got a chance to discuss it with Saab USA. At that time I was told that the 1.9 diesel used in Europe wasn’t compliant with US emissions laws, and it’d be too expensive to undergo the compliance tests for Saab anyway. They didn’t see a big market for diesel at the time due to the higher cost of the fuel there and the added cost of manufacture. They were, however, open to reassessment in all of this.
Fast forward to today’s story, and we learn that this very same 1.9 litre diesel engine might be making a US debut in the Astra for Saturn. The only obstacle that’s mentioned in the article is the additional $1,000 or so that the oilburner would add to the price of the Astra. No mention is made of compliance.

Autoblog – May 2006:

Autoblog reported yesterday that diesel’s accounted for 22% of Volkswagen’s US sales in the first four months of 2006.

Trollhattan Saab – May 2006:

if Saab don’t prepare for the new US regulations on diesel and get these highly successful and well regarded cars to the US market – then they’ve got rocks in their heads.

Bob Lutz – September 2007

We have the gravest of doubts that diesels are the solution.

Autoweek – January 2008:

BMW will begin selling two new performance-oriented diesel models in North America in 2008–the 335d sedan and X5 3.0sd SUV.
Both vehicles run a specially adapted version of BMW’s existing 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder common rail diesel engine. The diesel is fitted with an oxidation catalyst, particulate filter and a system to reduce nitric oxide outpt, which allows the powertrain to be sold in all 50 states.

Trollhattan Saab – January 2008

The Saab TTiD is a brilliant engine and should be sold in the US. I’d defy any US driver to have a crack at it and not enjoy it.

——
Thos quotes were all from a post back in January 2008 and I haven’t covered the “Diesel for the US” campaign much since then.
Perhaps it’s time to get back on the train. With a new owner coming on board, maybe they’ll see the sense in getting Saab into the US diesel market.
The latest quote to add to the pile is this one:
Edmunds Auto Observer – July 2009

With gasoline and diesel fuel prices staying low — and uncharacteristically consistent — as the summer progresses, data analysts at Edmunds.com, parent of AutoObserver, did a recent crunch of the often-discussed payback times for the nation’s two competing fuel-saving drivetrains: hybrid-electric and diesel-engine vehicles.
The latest round goes to diesel.
There are two factors currently working in diesel’s favor. First, diesel fuel prices have dropped precipitously since last summer’s explosion to $4 per gallon (and beyond) and normalized to pricing quite near regular unleaded gasoline.
Second, the price “premium” for diesel technologies is low — and in a few cases, combines with federal tax credits to make the diesel-powered vehicle actually cheaper than a comparable gasoline-engine variant of the same model. For those vehicles, diesel engine payback time is immediate.

GM and VM Motori 2.9 V6 diesel no longer on hold – now cancelled

I reported last night that the 2.9l V6 diesel being developed by VM Motori and to be used in the Saab 9-4x and 2010 Saab 9-5 had been paced on hold due to issues at the coalface in Italy.
I’ve had a note passed on to me by my mates at Auto Motor and Sport, saying that the engine program is now cancelled. This was confirmed to them via email from Saab Sweden.

GM has taken the decision to cancel the 2.9 V6 Diesel engine program which is a result of current market conditions and the consequent financial concerns. In December 2008, GM confirmed the engine would be delayed approximately 12 months. However, the final decision has been made to cancel the engine program.

Saab also emphasised that they have other diesel options for the Saab 9-4x and Saab 9-5, without stating what those options were.
Saab’s current diesel engines are great performers and when tweaked a little by Saab’s official tuners, Hirsch, they get even better. The loss of the V6 may be felt at the upper end of the new Saab 9-5’s market, however.
Do Saab have another diesel option up their sleeve? We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

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