Saab testing new four-wheel drive system

Spotted by Patrik and noted in comments…..
I’m quite sure this is the sort of technology development that is making Saab so attractive to potential investors out there.
The Googletrans from NyTeknik:
The secret project-to high-priority at Saab’s development department, experience new technologies. The system is primarily intended for the use of hybrid cars. Today is a prototype based on an electrically powered rear axle.
But according to sources within Saab, the new four-wheel easily adapted to different types of cars. It can be built in both small and large cars, in cars with traditional internal combustion engine, a hybrid or [laddhybrid].
It would then provide a key competitive advantage, because the car industry currently has to construct an increasing number of drive systems for a variety of car models and fuel.
The information about the technology is scant. Both hardware and software system developed by Saab’s own engineers.
Saab hope that the new technology could become as big a success as when Saab introduced turbocharging in the 1970s. But the future of the project is now uncertain.
See, it’s stuff like this that just HAS to be developed!!
Thumbnail image for Saab 9x

The Saab 9000 drive-by-wire ‘Joystick’ project

A little while ago I showed you some images of Saab prototype cars that were stored out the back of the Saab Museum in Trollhattan.
One of those cars was a Saab 9000 with the steering wheel removed, replaced by a joystick type controller. Here’s the image again:
Dave R, who was with me on that day at the museum, has dug out a magazine clipping from the era, with a story written about the project by Anders Tunberg (the guy who wrote a number of books about Saab and new Saab models over the last 25 years). Unforuntately the clipping is in Swedish, so only those blessed with Saab’s native tongue will be able to read it. Fortunately for the rest of us, I’ve found an article in English as well.
At least we can all appreciate the picture of the system in action. Click either image to enlarge.
The following article about the project was published in The Independent back in 1992. I don’t believe a link exists for the article there, but I found it here.
It’s interesting to note that according to Saab’s expectations at the time, we should all be getting joystick-mobiles in the next one to six years 🙂

SAAB, the Swedish car maker, seems untouched by recent controversy over fly-by-wire aircraft, and is pressing ahead with plans for a drive-by-wire car. Fly-by-wire aircraft rely on software controls to a far greater extent than conventional aircraft. Three fatal crashes of the A320 aircraft have raised fears over the safety of such systems, and how easy they are to fly.
Saab’s parent, the Saab Scania Group, has experience of computer-controlled transport, having built the Grippen fly-by-wire fighter aircraft. Its automotive engineers have produced a prototype computer-controlled car. The Independent took a brief test drive yesterday. The car felt very smooth to drive, and remarkably easy to handle, although we did only a few miles an hour.
Saab concedes that safety fears could be one of the biggest obstacles to selling such a radical change in car design. But it predicts that by the time the car is in production people will be more confident about computer-controlled transport.
There is no steering wheel, but a joystick to one side of the driver. There is no mechanical link between the joystick and the wheels a computer intervenes to control and optimise the hydraulic steering. The car has a back-up control system that performs the same basic tasks as the computer, but uses traditional electronics. This is ready to switch into action if any part of the computer fails, or the driver hits an emergency “stop” button. To steer, the driver turns the joystick from side to side, and the computer translates this into
wheel movement. The car senses the driver’s movements on the joystick, translates these into the optimum wheel angles and feeds back information to the driver by altering the response felt through the joystick. At low speeds, for manoeuvres such as parking, a small movement of the joystick produces a large change in direction of the wheels. At higher speeds this relationship changes, so a larger movement of the joystick is needed to shift the wheels.
The prototype has a computer keyboard and flat-screen display in the passenger seat, so the driver can modify the software to change the “feel” of the joystick. Per Branneby, the Saab test engineer who heads the steer-by-wire project, said: “I can make it feel like a go-kart or an American limousine.”
The idea is that driving without a steering wheel is physically safer, because you can fit an airbag where the steering wheel would be and avoid the crushing injuries often sustained by drivers in accidents.
It should also be safer because the computer and hydraulics in between the wheels and the joystick filter out “noise” from the road that would normally make the steering wheel shake and judder such as stones in the road or gusty winds.
Mr Branneby said drivers get most of the information they need to steer the car by monitoring sideways forces on their seat. In the Saab car, the computer is fed data from sensors that tell it about these forces, as well as the car’s speed and acceleration. The car does not sense the environment it is in, so cannot respond automatically and change its steering to deal with a bumpy or icy road, or a skid. This is the next stage in Saab’s research.
The two-litre Saab 9000 Turbo used to test the active steering has automatic gears and anti-lock brakes and a conventional accelerator, although Mr Branneby said these may eventually be linked to the central computer. He does not envisage production models of cars using steer-by-wire joysticks until 2010 or 2015, although a version with active steering applied to a conventional steering wheel may come sooner. He also said a production model would probably have two joysticks one for each arm so the driver can swap the arm in control.

Help required – how do you manually close a Saab 900 sunroof?

The headline to the story says it all, really….

I’m in need of help and I’ve googled everything I know.
I have a 1993 Saab 900 Turbo (2dr) and can not get the sunroof to close. I’m trying to figure out how to manually close it until I can take a look at the switch.
I’ve read something about a closing the sunroof manually from the trunk???
Thank you for your help in Anchorage.

I know there’ll be a manual winder somewhere, but I never needed to access mine so I never looked it up.
Classic 900 owners – your assistance please……

Saab’s 0-100km/h times. A problem?

This is one of those old and interesting questions…..
The 0-100 km/h statistic (or 0-60 in the old school markets) is one of those numbers that many people use to measure a car. It’s also a number that means little in real life as there’s seldom a time when we need to match the published number. But it does give an instantly familiar and comparable measurement with which we can compare different cars and it’s one that many people look for first.
The following was sent in via email by “Me”, who’s being crunching a few numbers between a Saab 9-3 and the new VW Golf:

The new VW Golf R has been launched and although this might seem less important to a SAAB fan it is in a certain way quite interesting.
The last generation’s Golf R was named the Golf R32 and it used a 3.2 L naturally aspirated V6 engine. The new engine is a 4-banger with a turbo, it has more power than the old engine and similar torque along with much reduced fuel consumption.
Where have I heard a similar sentence ?? 😉
I wanted to compare the Volkswagen Golf R2.0T 4Motion (270HP/350Nm) with the 9-3 Aero XWD MY’10 (240HP/350Nm).
Fuel Consumption:

  • VW – 8,5 l/100km
  • Saab – 8,2 l/100km

Acceleration 80 – 120 kph:

  • VW – 8 sec
  • Saab – 7,8 sec

Acceleration 0 – 100 kph

  • VW – 5,7 sec
  • Saab – 7,3 sec

Although both cars curb weight is a little more than 1.5 tons and the engines performance data is quite similar, the VW is 1,5 sec faster from 0-100kph?
I know you also won’t have an explanation for this, but maybe someone out there does – why are current SAABs so slow from 0-100? Even the ’99 viggen with its FWD and 225HP/ 343Nm was able to do the 0-100 kph in 6,8 sec.
The new Hirsch tuned Saab 9-3 2.0T XWD Performance version (270HP/390Nm) is also only able to do the 0-100kph in 6.4secs.
Swade again, here…….
I guess the relevant questions are:

  • Are Saabs too slow for many of you from 0-100?
  • Why is the 0-100 seemingly so far behind a competitive model?
  • Do people consider the 0-100 important, or place more emphasis on the 80-120?

Personally, I’m more of an acceleration-in-motion guy. The only thing that bothers me about 1st gear being quite anemic is that it makes for a slightly less smooth driving experience.
My days of drag racing from the lights are well behind me.

SU theory on open air filters

There’s been a reasonable amount of conjecture here in recent times about performance air filters: whether they’re effective or not and what sort of filter is best.
These are my thoughts, the thoughts of a regular Saab owner with no technical expertise, but one who has had some seat-of-the-pants experience with both the stock air filter and an open-style performance air filter.
The Principle (according to me)
An engine is basically a big air pump that uses combustion as a means of turning the air into energy to drive the car. The more air you can push in there, the more energy (power) you can create at a given point in time and therefore, the faster you can go.
This principle is effected by the temperature of the air. Cold air is more dense than hot air so the more cold air you can get the better.
More important than air temperature is air filtration, as you don’t want to be pumping dirty air into your engine and causing damage to it.
So the ideal is to get more cold, clean air into your engine, thereby enabling it to make more power quickly.
Open air filters are attractive because they’re open. i.e. they’re not inside a box with a little pipe restricting the air feed. You have more ready access to a greater volume of air. BUT……. open filters are often compromised to some extent by the fact that they’re in the engine bay, where hot air resides. So whilst you’ve quicker access to more air, it’s often warm air and therefore not as dense (not as much pure volume) as cooler air.
Whether an open air filter is going to be suitable for you and your car might be effected by a number of things. The climate you live in, for example, could be an important factor. Someone living in a tropical region with higher temperatures and high humidity would probably do better with an enclosed air filter. In a colder, drier climate, your car could possibly cope a lot better with an open arrangement and the dynamic that it offers.
There are a number of thoughts about air filters, which I’ll deal with here. Again, this is just from a layman’s point of view, based on observed experiences both personal and 3rd party.
Theory #1 – The stock air filter is good for 300hp
I have no doubt whatsoever that this is an accurate statement. There are several things it doesn’t take into account, IMHO.
That statement, to me, says that the stock filter is inadequate for power ratings more than 300hp. It doesn’t tell me much about the performance characteristics of the stock filter below 300hp.
One of the things about making a mainstream production car is that it has to be durable and therefore, car companies go with ‘safe’ options. This is why your 9-3 makes 210hp when the engine’s quite capable of safely making 240hp (a-la the Hirsch remap output). When you boost the performance like that, you have to look after it a certain way. You have to use the right fuels, coolants, etc. Stuff the ordinary driver couldn’t be bothered with.
The fact that the stock air filter is good up to 300hp is reassuring, and safe, but it doesn’t tell me much about how it performs up to that level.
Theory #2 – open air filters don’t give any extra power
This may also be true. I’ve not dynoed my car in order to be able to tell. But I wouldn’t be troubled in the slightest if my open air filter didn’t boost my power output. That’s not why I bought it and it’s not why you should buy one, either.
The reason I was happy to get my open air filter was partly to do with……
Theory #3 – open air filters increase throttle response
I have no scientific evidence that this is the case.
But my own experience from owning a car that’s had both the stock air filter and an open air filter (fitted with a heat shield and run in a cool climate) is that yes, it does feel like the car responds quicker.
We’re talking about minute differences here. Spending a hundred-or-so dollars on an air filter is not going to take you from Driving Miss Daisy to The Rendezvous in one fell swoop. It’s an incremental thing.
But fitting the open air filter is something that I’m very pleased with for a number of reasons. The first of these is that I really do feel like it’s increased the throttle response in my car – however slightly. I’ll get to a few more reasons in a moment….
Theory #4 – Open vs enclosed
I find the performance-air-filters-are-bunk argument to be short-sighted and dismissive. If that’s the case, then a whole industry has millions of people, including some well-versed performance experts, completely duped. Maybe the more important question is “what type of performance air filter works best?”
I’ve been talking about the open type of air filter, like the one I’ve currently got fitted to my car.
There are others, though, one of which I’ve just put on order so that I can try it out. These are enclosed performance air filters that sit inside your factory airbox. They still have the cold air feed through a small pipe pointed away from the main area of the engine bay, but they have more free-flowing filtration properties that allow more air through the filter whilst retaining filtration quality.
This seems like the best of both worlds – free airflow of colder air whilst keeping the air clean. I hope that turns out to be the case.
Theory #5 – The intangibles
Those who are technically competent may giggle at this first intangible, but I can guarantee that this confession is not just my own. Other mechanically-challeneged people like me would feel the same.
It feels good to select, buy and then fit one of these performance air filters and then drive your car and feel a difference. It’s one thing that we dumb guys can do with minimal chance of stuffing something up. Add to that the fact that it seems to have a real-world effect, and it’s a win.
The second intangible is the fact that they look cool (and seem to have a real world effect – have I mentioned that enough yet?). If you’re into cars then it’s nice if you can have something that looks cool and does it’s job.
The third intangible is that the open air filter sounds absolutely awesome. Maybe this influences the perception that the car is responding quicker. I’m not sure, but it certainly adds a sense of theatre that I’ll miss if I don’t have access to it again in the future.
Put it this way – I live in a city full of hills, surrounding a big wide river. Those hills means that everyone gets a view of the water. Once you have access to that view on a regular basis, whether from your home or just driving around, it’s very hard to move to a city that doesn’t have the same pleasurable experiences associated with it.
Some have mentioned that using the stock airbox with a few holes drilled in the side will provide a similar aural sensation under boost. I’ll be trying a performance filter in the stock airbox soon and if it doesn’t deliver the noises I’ve grown to enjoy, then I might have to break out the Makita.
The bottom line
Do I have to say it again? These are just my own thoughts based on my own reading, conversations and personal experience. It’s not science.
But if you’ve got an open air filter and it’s performing well and you’re happy with it then you have my heartiest congratulations. Enjoy it. Love it, in fact. If it gives you more enjoyment from your car then that’s all that matters. Like me, you probably think that the car is responding better/quicker and there’s a very good chance that you’re right, especially if you’re in a cool climate.
If you haven’t got a performance filter and you’re happy, then congratulations to you, too.
This really is a horses-for-courses thing. The most important thing is that whichever way you choose to go, you should be happy with your car and you should modify it in a way that does no damage to the car.
Just look after the car and enjoy it.
My current air filter is an open BSR unit with heatshield, which I purchased from Elkparts.
Saab Air Filter fitting
I’m very happy with this setup except for a few vibration noises with the filter at certain airflow levels, which is a situation that isn’t common, but I believe is possibly to do with either my particular unit or my installation of that unit. I know of others with the same or similar units who are 100% happy.
The air filter I’ve just purchased and will try out soon is an enclosed performance filter from Maptun, that fits in the stock Saab airbox. I’ll let you know how that goes as soon as it arrives.

Swedish electric car: three years away

This seems like a little bit of a downer after all the promise showed by the Electro Engine Saab 9-3 Convertible, but it seems we might still be three years from regular production of an electric car from Sweden.

A gathering took place recently at the Innovatum facility in Trollhattan. All of the potential suppliers and manufacturers got together to see where the possibilities for electric vehicles were at.

Ny Teknik was there to cover it (Googletrans)

During a seminar at Innovatum technology park in Trollhättan, Saab Automobile and Volvo Cars discussed Swedish development of electric cars. 29 sub-contractors also had a chance to present techniques for the car makers – techniques which can allow a Swedish-made electric car within three years…..

The day seems to have been driven by an effort called the Flash Project, which seems to be a collaboration of a number of companies, including Saab and Electro Engine. It seems to be a government funded research project aimed at speeding the development of electric propulsion for mass produced automobiles.

There was a great openness between suppliers. All automakers have the same problem – to get electric cars are running well and be in the forefront when it comes to climate comfort. It is good if everyone uses the same type of solutions.” he tells, and continues:

– To create an electric car does not happen overnight, it is a very large project. But I really think that there were many great Swedish ideas at the seminar.

It seems we’re still all a while away from sneaking up behind pedestrians and scaring them inside out driving one of those sexy silent Electro Engine Saab 9-3 Convertibles, but hopefully Saab can remain at the forefront of this research and come up with a segment-leading example when it’s finally ready.


Thanks Magnus!

Concerns with my air filter….

Some of you may know that I recently installed a Hirsch uprated ECU and a new, open air filter in my 1999 Saab 9-3 Monte Carlo (2.0 HOT Trionic 5).
Saab Air Filter fitting
I’ll be swapping out the Hirsch ECU shortly to give a 225HP unit from Maptun a test drive for a few weeks, but I’m wondering if I should swap out my air filter at the same time. The air filter has been an absolute blast to have fitted to the car, but it’s exhibiting one particular trait that’s not only a little annoying, but is also causing me some concern.
Ever heard of Gumleaf music? Ever blown a stream of air along the edge of a sheet of paper? If so, then you’ll know the behaviour and associated noise I’m talking about. It’s not that my air filter sounds like a Cockatoo, but the principle upon which gumleaf music is possible – it’s the vibration from the filter that I’m talking about.
I’m not sure whether I’ve fitted the filter incorrectly – maybe too tight or too loose – but at certain levels of airflow, it stops its normal, addictive Darth Vader soundtrack and vibrates with a resonance that’s rather loud and disconcerting.
The noise isn’t the major problem. What I’m worried about is (my theory only and totally unproven) the possibility that the vibrations causing the noise could be shaking the paper in the filter so much that some of the particles that it’s designed to catch could be let loose to fly into my intake.
Misplaced concerns?
As I said, I love the air filter. I honestly don’t know if it helps with the car’s performance or not and if so (or not), then the effect either way is marginal, at best. What I love about it is the sense of theatre that it lends to the driving experience. It’s great to hear all that air rushing in.
But if there’s a chance that it’s doing damage due to either being a faulty unit or me installing it incorrectly, then I’ve got to get it sorted. I’ve not heard any similar complaints from others. In fact, I’ve read nothing but praise from happy customers about this item, so I’m quite sure it’s a case that’s distinct to my car and filter.
Any advice based welcome…..

33% off Trionic5 Red DI cassettes at Elkparts

Just picked up via Twitter…..
saab_trionic_five_DI.jpg John at Elkparts has 2 only, red DI cassettes selling at 33% off normal price. If you drive a Saab 4cyl T5 vehicle (9000, NG900 or original 9-3*) then getting one of these can be good insurance against DI casette failure. I’ve never had one fail personally, but have heard plenty of stories from people who have and it’s not a good experience being stranded like that.
NOTE – There are only two DI cassettes available. They’re brand new, still in their boxes.
Click here for the Elkparts product page.
* Also note…. these are not suitable for 9-3 Aero or Viggen models, which use Trionic7.

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