Saab Innovations

Ever clicked through the innovations section of Saab Global Website, frustrated as all heck that you can’t get a hard copy of the stuff?

Let Swade do the typing for you.

Over the fold, the (almost) complete list of Saab Innovations, courtesy of Saab and my very tired fingers.

1958: Safety Belts

Saab was the first car manufacturer to introduce seat belts as standard.  From the very start, Saab played an active part in the development of safety components – in-house as well as in co-operation with subcontractors.

1963: Dual Brake Circuits

The diagonally split brake system reduced the risk of losing brake power in the event of damage to the system

1969: Headlamps switch off with ignition – Driving with headlamps in the daylight is a documented safety enhancement.  The automatic on/off switch eliminated the risk of discharging the battery by accident.

1969: Ignition lock between front seats – The traditional position of the ignition key caused severe knee injuries, even in minor accidents.  Placing the ignition lock between the front seats gets it out of the way.  Furthermore, the position is logical, adjacent to the seat belt lock, handbrake and gear lever.

1970: Headlights wash and wipe – Rain and dirt can remove 90% of headlamp illumination.  Saab’s simple yet unique solution was to create a wash and wipe system, which later became a legal requirement in many countries.

1971: Energy Absorbing Bumpers – With conventional bumpers, even a minor collision could result in costly repairs.  With energy absorbing bumpers, collisions at speeds up to 8km/h require no repairs at all.

1971: Electrically Heated Seats: A major comfort enhancement.  Originally it was developed from a health perspective; sitting in a cold seat is not good for anyone.  Today, this Saab innovation is a part of the standard equipment in almost any car.

1972: Side Impact Protection – Saab was the first car manufacturer to introduce reinforcement members in the doors, in order to provide side impact protection.  Surprisingly enough, the Saab was for many years the only car that offered this added safety.

1976: 3-Way Catalyst Converter – To comply with rigorous emissions regulations, Saab was one of the first car manufacturers to use a Lambda sensor controlled 3-way catalyst converter.  Today, this is naturally a standard feature on all Saab cars and continued development work is being carried out to maintain and improve our position in this field.

1976: Turbocharging – Saab was the first car manufacturer to develop a turbo engine with the reliability and durability that is required for everyday use. Turbocharging provides increased output and huge torque at low and medium revs, without the usual increase in weight, cost and fuel consumption.

1978: Collapsible Steering Column – With Saab’s design, the steering column does not penetrate the cabin in a head-on collision.  Compared with other similar designs this has the advantage of not affecting the driver’s ability to steer the car even after an accident

1978: Cabin Air Filter – Allergies are an increasing problem.  The quality of the air is very important for people who suffer from hay fever or other allergies. Our electrostatic cabin air filter removes pollen and other particles, down to a size of 0.004mm from the incoming air.

1980: APC – Growing concern for the environment and reduced emissions led to the development of APC, Automatic Performance Control.  APC enables the engine to run on fuels with a lower octane rating, with no loss of efficiency and durability.  This is achieved using combustion process monitoring to control the turbocharger.

1981: Split-field Side Mirror – This Saab innovation eliminates the blind spots when looking to the rear.  Simple, inexpensive and subsequently standard de facto.

1982: Asbestos-free Brake Pads – Saab was probably the first car manufacturer to take advantage of the new materials to replace asbestos.

1985: Direct Ignition – By the direct ignition system, Saab eliminated the ignition cables and distributor.  Each spark plug has a separate coil which produces a firing spark voltage of 40,000 volts.  The result is improved combustion and better cold-starting performance.

1991: Saab Trionic – Saab Trionic was developed in-house and is still one of the world’s most advanced systems for engine management. It measures all the parameters which play a significant part in the combustion process. The data is used for real-time control of turbocharging, fuel injection and ignition.  The system also includes ionisation measurement inside the cylinders while the engine is running.

1991: Light Pressure Turbo – With the light pressure turbo, Saab has introduced turbo technology for standard cars with a less pronounced performance profile.  Light pressure turbo is used to optimise driving characteristics and overtaking performance.

1991: CFC Free Air Conditioning – By tradition, the coolants used in air conditioning systems were of the CFC type – efficient but with a documented harmful effect on the atmosphere.  In the early 90’s alternatives became available and Saab was one of the first to introduce this as standard.

1993: Saab Safeseat – The Saab Safeseat was introduced as a safety design philosophy.  The aim is to ensure that all the interior safety features interact correctly and provide maximum protection.

1993: Night Panel – This function blacks out the instrument panel, apart from the speedometer.  This reduces the risk of distraction while driving at night.  All the systems still work in the background and the appropriate guage or lamp will light up when the driver’s attention is required.  A good example of our aircraft heritage.

1995: Ecopower – Saab’s engine development does not simply focus on performance.  Power should be instantly available but not at the expense of economy and environmental concern.  Ecopower is the collective name for our efforts in this field. Turbo, ignition, engine management and catalytic converters are not treated as separate units, but are optimised to create a harmonious power source.

1996: Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR) – The number of whiplash injuries would decrease dramatically if all cars had head restraints that were shaped and correctly positioned.  That is why Saab has developed the Active Head Restraint.  It automatically takes up the correct position in a rear-end impact and controls the movement of the head and vertebrae.

1997: Electronic Brake Force Distribution – To optimise the effect of the brakes, this function distributes the correct amount of the force to the front and rear axle respectively.  It is sensitive to the load distribution in the car and, unlike a traditional reduction valve, it does not reduce the total amount of available braking power.

1997: Ventilated Seats – Saab 9-5 is the first car with ventilated seats.  As a compliment to air conditioning this provides an outstanding level of comfort and helps the driver to stay fit and alert.

1997: Comsense – Saab introduced a system that reduces the risk of distraction by briefly delaying incoming phone calls and lower priority alerts when the brakes or turn indicators are activated.  This helps the driver to stay focused, for example when turning, overtaking or approaching a crossing.

2000: Saab Variable Compression – Saab launched an entirely new engine concept named SVC.  Owing to the SVC engine’s unique design, it offers performance on a par with units twice its size but with the fuel consumption of a small engine.  The SVC engine is a 5-cylinder 1.6 litre unit producing 225 bhp and it delivers no less than 305 Nm of torque.

2002: ReAxs System – Saab 9-3 Sport Sedan was introduced with a chassis geometry system that ensures smooth interaction of the steering, front suspension and multi-link rear axle.  ReAxs enables the rear wheels to steer slightly when turning, helping the car move in the intended direction.  It provides crisp steering feedback and contributes to enhanced driving stability in curves.

2003: Cargowing – Serves as a spoiler when lowered.  When raised it becomes a functional rack for special holders to carry objects such as skis and snowboards.

2003: CargoSET – A function introduced for Saab 9-3 Convertible that automatically expands the luggage capacity as you raise the soft-top.  The space occupied by the folded soft-top becomes available for luggage, providing a total of 380 litres.

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  1. Saab Innovations list is far from complete, try using other sites and books and so on…

    I would start by adding a least wastegate there.

  2. My anonymous commenting friend:

    The Pope is the one claiming infallibility. I’m just a blogger with a passion and various time constraints. These innovations were taken down verbatim from Saab. If you have any that they missed, please add them. That’s what comments are for.


  3. Does anyone know where I can buy the CARGOWING for Saab 9-3 Convertible (2006 modell). It is impossible to find anywhere … ?

  4. I know it sounds like a silly question, but have you tried sourcing it through your local dealership? I’m not sure there’d be many aftermarket suppliers for a 2006.

  5. I wonder why no one shows the collapsible steering column they introduced in 1968. The saabmuseum website above (great site) shows it being introduced in 1969, however, my 1968 brochure includes it here (caution, big scan):

    They needed it too. After watching the Saab Safety video on YouTube, I’m not going to drive my bullnose until I retrofit one. Watching the steering wheel go up through the windshield in a 30 mph crash test was all the convincing I needed.

  6. The night panel actually first debuted on the EV-1 concept in 1985.

    Also, I notice the inclusion of SVC, but the exclusion of SCC.