A new low flying Saab…

DSC00571In the days before the festival I was walking around in Trollhättan, and on one of my trips to the popular Spikön in the central Trollhättan, in the middle of the channel I saw some interesting. The city of Trollhättan has during the last years done a great job to make Spikön a nice place to be. A refurbished marina for leisure boats with new service facilities replaced the old marina, and where the service facilities was built there was a outdoor restaurant earlier. Next to the new marina has they built a new playground for the kids, and this was the thing that make me pay attention. Inside the building fences I saw something I recognize immediately – something with a Saab-grille. Later I found out that the playground  had a grand opening a few days after, on Saturday 6th of June – the same weekend as the Saab-festival. The day after my first visit I visited Spikön again, this time while there was people working there. I get a better look of the ting with a Saab-grille, and that was a hybrid between a car and a plane!

So this weekend did I visit Trollhättan again, just over the night (more about that visit later!), and I went over to Spikön for a closer look at this hybrid. The thing was a plane with a cabin and front inspired from a Saab 96, and it was placed in front of a hangar named “Flygmotor” after the old company “Nohab Flygmotor” (Nohab Aircraft Engine) I belive. Nohab was a company that mainly produced steam locomotives and diesel electric locomotives, but water turbines and Aircraft Engines was some of the other products. The Aircraft Engine was later sold to Volvo and get the name Volvo Aero, and after about 60 years Volvo sold it to the GKN-group. The GKN factory is the neighbour to the Saab-factory at Stallbacka. Another Saab-Nohab link is that in the Nohab buildings (that now is named the Innovatum area), is the Saab Car Museum located, and it is actually located in one of the old Nohab workshops.

So the fact that kids in Trollhättan get used to Saab in early age is well known, and this is one more thing that prove that!
And if you visit Trollhättan, I highly recommend a walk to Spikön if you have time over for that. If you live in the city center of Trollhättan it takes approximatelya half an hour to go around Spikön from the hotels and back. And are you are a little too old to use the playground, you can always play some mini-golf in the evenings, eat some ice-cream or just enjoy the silence and a nice view over the channel!

The Reason Those BMW Rumors Weren’t True

Behold, the first serious attempt by BMW to produce a FWD lineup, the Active Tourer Concept. When the possibility that BMW might purchase Saab’s bankrupt assets was floated around, I imagine the developers of this concept were scratching their heads quite a bit, as it appears on the surface to follow the parameters Saab was trying to adapt to its Phoenix platform.

Besides the low displacement turbo three cylinder engine powering the front wheels, it has an electric rear axle– except this one can actually power the car by itself, something that Saab was working on behind the scenes but didn’t have the chance to fully develop. It has a hatchback, it’s flexible enough to use on several models including the next Mini. It is essentially the answer to what happens when you design a BMW with Saab philosophy. Replace the standard BMW design language with some Swedish Aero influence and I think you have the answer to what most of us here wanted, a super efficient small AWD Saab.

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Is the world getting CO₂ crazy??

All of a sudden the car industry is able to deliver cars that are fun to drive and have an incredible low CO2 emission. Who is behind this incredible improvement, the engineering department or the marketing department?

I can’t speak for every new ultra-low emissions sports car being build in the future, but at least one. I don’t know how Mr. Wüst came to this information (German original article), but If I were one of the committees that decide how the consumption of a car has to be measured, I would try to change the current standard as fast as I could to reflect the real consumption of hybrid cars.

Mr. Wüst in his article talks about the Porsche 918 Spyder. This car will have a 500hp V8 engine + 218hp from the e-motor, a high speed of 325 kph and a 0-100 value of 3,2 s but only emit 70g of CO2 in the european mixed cycle.

Is that possible? Yes it is, because Porsche (and anybody else) is allowed to run the test only on battery power, the car can run for 25 km on battery power. Afterwards the consumed current is transformed inequivalent petrol consumption.

And what is the relation to Saab, you may ask? Well there is no direct link, as there isn’t much information leaked about the next 9-3, but it made me think about the latest Volvo announcement, and the fact, that rumors say that Saab is targeting similar Specs as the Volvo made me think about it.

Volvo is presenting its new V60 hybrid at Geneva. The car combines the current D5 engine (Diesel; 205hp;420Nm) with an electrified rear axle with 70electric hp, getting the current 142g/km to an almost impossible 50 g/km. This car will hit the showrooms in 2012.

Is Volvo using the same trick as Porsche, to be frankly I think yes, they do, the car can run twice as long as the Porsche on battery power. Will Saab have to use the same trick to get the planned 9-3 hybrid (with a similar configuration to the V60). Yes, I also think they will have to.

My point is, that Saab may present the <120g 9-3 SC at Geneva, but this big achievement from the Saab engineers will be seen like a joke one year later when Volvo gets the V60 hybrid on the road.At least the supremacy from Volvo won't last too long (I hope), and the Germans (the A4 for instance), won't be able to show something similar till 2013/14.

Report – Saab working on diesel hybrid

A reporter from Automobil magazine in Sweden has apparently sighted a hybrid in testing while he was in Trollhattan testing the new Saab 9-5.

The vehicle he saw was a very looking Saab 9-3 sedan and the reporter claims he saw a lot of battery packs in the back when the trunk was opened.

Automobile has just visited Trollhättan. The mission was to return the 9-5 Aero we had on test. As a bonus, we saw a diesel hybrid.

After a pleasant drive from Stockholm the writer and Oscar Carlquist arrived in Trollhättan. We will return the test car and go back to Stockholm in our own car. It is good manners to return a test car with a full tank, so we drive to a roadside petrol station affiliated to the factory. We are not alone, there are 9-5s and is 9-3s everywhere.

A 9-3 catches my attention because it is towed to the pump by a 9-5. When the car is to be refueled the co-driver goes out and open the luggage compartment. I notice a hefty collection of batteries and units, but my camera phone is not fast enough so I can take a picture.

I walk closer and see the sign in the rear side window. “Hybrid” it says, and now things get really interesting. When fueling is completed, the car is started and it becomes clear that there is a diesel engine that is being adapted for hybrid technology. I look up the car in the car register and indeed it is a diesel. It has automatic transmission and came into service in April 2007.

The development is a longstanding one. Already in November 2007 a Senska Dagbladet’s reporter spotted a white 9-3 with the combination of diesel and hybrid.

“We are developing hybrid technology for different types of engines,” said Magnus Wall, Director of the Development Laboratory at that time to SvD.

Since then much has happened with Saab. But it is gratifying to note that Saab proceeds with this project. Given how long the work has been ongoing they should soon be ready. It would be exciting if Saab could be at the forefront now. The world’s first diesel hybrid will be the Peugeot 3008 HYbird4 which goes on sale in 2011. Join now, Saab!

OK, so it’s only a sticker, but still…..

What was most interesting is that when the driver started the car, it was quite apparent that it was a diesel engine under the hood, meaning Saab could well be testing out hybrid technology in combination with their own frugal, low-emissions diesel powerplants.

Whilst petrol hybrids have been reasonably well received and appreicated for their mileage improvement, diesel hyrbids offer an even greater frugality promise and would surely be a great seller in European markets.

Thanks to Dippen and Arild for the tip!

Ny Teknik on the new Saab/eAAM electronic rear axle

Swedish technology gurus Ny Teknik have just published an article taking a closer look at the new rear axle setup being developed by the new joint venture between Saab and American Axle, called e-AAM.

The people involved are pretty positive about things, too.

This is bigger than the turbo and everything else that Saab has developed, “said the engineer Erik Sten, who has been involved from the beginning.

They summarise the need for such a system thus:

Today offers virtually all automakers wheel-drive cars.

In many of them, the entity that distributes power between front and rear wheels from the Swedish company Haldex. Four-wheel drive doubles the car’s traction on difficult surfaces and provide better traction on snow-covered slopes – especially if the car pulls a trailer.

The most advanced systems also allocates additional power to right the wheels that need it most, such as the outer wheels in a curve.

The disadvantage is that the mechanical power transmission between front and rear wheels will increase the weight by up to 100 kg. In addition, the friction losses. Altogether it gives in practice about 10 percent higher fuel consumption.

And the potential advantages of e-AAM’s system…..

Saab’s model is much easier. Less than 60 kg, including electronics and battery. It reacts faster than mechanical systems, which increases security. It also helps the driver stay on course on slippery roads by individual control of the torque (torque vectoring). But perhaps the biggest advantage is that it reduces consumption.

Compared with a mechanical all-wheel drive will save you between 14 and 30 percent, says Magnus Ryde, marketing manager for EAAM.

If you’re Swedish, get along and read the original article for yourself.

If you’re not Swedish, run that link through Googletrans and read the rest.

Perhaps one of you Swedes could give us a hand deciphering Ny Teknik’s diagram?

Saab e-AAM by NyTeknik

Thanks to Patrik B for the tip!

Mats Fägerhag on Saab’s new e-AAM Driveline Systems company

I’ve just got off the phone with Mats Fägerhag, Saab’s chief technical guru. We talked a little about the new e-AAM Driveline Systems venture that Saab has set up with American Axle Manufacturing.

Saab owns one third of the new company, which will be based in Trollhattan. AAM own the remaining two-thirds.

Here are the dot points from that conversation…..

Saab already use a class-leading all-wheel-drive system in Haldex’s XWD, but one of the downsides with it is that it brings a 10-12% penalty in fuel economy. That’s because the system works so well in terms of moving torque around to different wheels, keeping the car stable, predictable and dynamic when you need it to be – it all takes energy. Saab’s aim in researching this new system is finding a way to maintain XWD-like stability whilst substantially improving fuel economy.

The system that Saab have been developing since the carve-out from General Motors is an all-new system, developed by Saab. The patents and IP belong to Saab and this has been approved by GM.

Saab was the lead center for all-wheel-drive development within GM, so they built up a very experienced team that has been able to work quickly on this new technology once Saab were separated from GM.

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Press Release: Saab Automobile and AAM form new technology company: e-AAM Driveline Systems

  • Saab and American Axle Manufacturing (AAM) in joint venture to develop electric and hybrid driveline systems
  • New company, e-AAM Driveline Systems, headquartered in Trollhättan, Sweden
  • Major step for Saab towards a successful future as an independent company

Trollhättan, Sweden: Saab Automobile and American Axle Manufacturing (AAM) today announced the formation of a jointly-owned company for the engineering, development and marketing of innovative electric all-wheel drive systems, as well as electric and hybrid driveline systems. The new company, called e-AAM Driveline Systems, will be based in Trollhättan. The joint venture will commence operations on October 1.

e-AAM will develop and market an innovative electric all-wheel drive system in a full service package. This electric all-wheel drive system can be easily integrated into existing platforms, minimizing vehicle architecture changes. Saab will become a client of e-AAM Driveline Systems, purchasing components to be used in next-generation Saab vehicles from 2012. The new company will also market its expertise and advanced products to other car manufacturers on a global basis.

Announcing the formation of e-AAM Driveline Systems, Saab Automobile CEO Jan Åke Jonsson said: “For Saab, the announcement of this partnership is a major step towards a successful future as an independent company. Saab is currently class-leading with its innovative Cross Wheel Drive system (XWD). The new electric all-wheel drive system will secure a leadership position in its next generation Saabs. This joint venture will bring together Saab’s world-class vehicle engineering expertise and AAM’s extensive engineering, production and marketing capabilities, which leads to a powerful combination.”

Richard E. Dauch, CEO, Chairman and co-founder of American Axle Manufacturing, said: “AAM is pleased to be launching this exciting new business opportunity with Saab. e-AAM will leverage the outstanding competencies of both our companies in the development of state-of-the-art electric and hybrid driveline systems needed by global OEMs to improve the fuel efficiency, ride and handling performance and overall capability of their products. The new and innovative products to be engineered by e-AAM, as well as the new customers to be served by this joint venture, solidly support AAM’s strategic initiative to expand and diversify our business.”

——

UPDATE

According to TTELA:

Saab will be a minority owner, owning one third and American Axle will own two-thirds of the new company, which will begin operations in Trollhättan, Sweden on October 1. There will be 18 employees to begin with, including 17 engineers from Saab.

Saab’s CTO Mats Fägerhag thinks the staff may need to double by year end.

Thanks Matthias, in comments!

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