Diesel tests keep rolling

There’s several themes emerging from the latter part of this week – SVC and diesel. I guess the overall theme is differentiation and the way Saab could do it in what is still the single most important marketplace: the US. I’ll write it again just in case people at GM are missing it: SAAB NEEDS A DIESEL IN THE US MARKETPLACE IN 2007.

I’ll get on to some SVC discussion later……..

In the meantime, you can all read about something Jay Spenchian mentioned nothing of in his product post at Fastlane a few days ago (I’m still a little bitter about the lack of future mentioned there). The new 1.9 litre TiD 9-3 is hot property at the moment in the UK. The Observer has another quickish review and like the others, it’s all good.

The Saab is still as distinct and impressive as it ever was, and its latest, tax-efficient 1.9 TiD 150bhp – which replaces the original 2.2 TiD – delivers a ride as smooth and relaxing as anything you’d receive in a Swedish massage parlour.

Britain’s love affair with Saab started in 1960; since then, all things Swedish – from Abba and meatballs to flat-pack bookcases (though we’re still struggling with the herrings) – have become the backbone of every self-respecting Hoxtonite. And Saab has been there to cash in as the ultimate statement of understated style.

There’s some junky under-researched stuff in there too, but over all, it’s a good quick read. Go check it out.


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  1. I Don’t understand why in the USA it must be diesels…..in the next 3-4 years and since 2010 with the new UE emission regulations the diesel engine will be quite more expensive than now to produce and also have more complexity. The Diesel engines arrived near to the top of its possibilities, but the petrol engines it has more capabilities to progess. With turbo, direct injection and many other technologies are less expensive to produce and will reduce the gap of consumption and also in CO2 emissions, also they have less emissions of CO, NO and others.

    In the next years the turbo technology and direct injection in the petrol engines will be very important. for example BMW said it will introduce petrol turbo engines, Mercedes give up in the use of kompressor and will use turbos, and many other brands begin to use turbo engines.

    I think that the diesel engines hasn’t a bright future in the industry if not arrives an impressive change or technology that increase a lot the gap with petrol engines in consumption, and also reduce the complexity and production costs, and the maintenance is expensive than a petrol engine.

  2. Hi Eduard. What are you doing spending your weekend writing comments here?! You should be out driving in the Spanish sun!

    I think it’ll be some time before there’s efficiency gains in petrol engines that will bring then to the same level as diesel engines. We’re taling in the realm of 40% efficiency improvements, which is a lot. And what’s to say there won’t be some gains in diesel economy in that time too.

    I don’t have an engineering bone in my body, but I know there’s commercial opportunities for diesel in the US and Saab needs every break there that it can get. The fact is that they make one heck of a good diesel 9-3 and they should seel it there when the laws make the situation suitable.

    Of course, they should be taking advantage of any improvements in regular gasoline engines too. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. They can always market them side-by-side.

    Now, go enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

  3. I drived this morning, its a real pleasure, but this week it was terrible, here in Barcelona its quite common for this date, the torrential rains, they only have about 20 minuts of duration but are incredibly dangerous and make a lot of hurt. Also this year in some places also apear onw or two small tornados. This only happens at the coast of catalonia near Barcelona.

    About diesels, here in some places of Europe its a feber, for example in Spain before Saab showed the 2.2TID in 1998 it was completely unkown and now thanks to diesel engines the sales every year are a record, more with the 9-3ss. About the 70% of sales of the 9-3ss are diesel engines. Its quite curious that many people when they have the opportunity change to petrol engine, the 2.0t(T) its incredibly good.

    The capability of improvement of the diesels at this moment is quite small, for example take a look at Mercedes, to pass the USA emissions they need a new system with an Urea deposit, that makes the car more complex and more cost for the user and in the production and more maintenance and more opportinuty to be less reliable.

    the real improvement of petrol engines against diesel it will come in 2-3 years and will be quite clear after 2010, its true that with this 3-4 years Saab and the other brands can take more share and make some money with diesels, but in long term this will be the best?? the money they spend to have diesels in the USA will compensante the effort and to give less opportunity to the petrol engines or other alternatives.

    i must recognize I don’t like diesels…..xDDDD I think are quite good if you make a lot of miles and need a car easy to drive and big autonomy, but that gap with petrol engines will be reduced in the future.

  4. ed-
    Rain is good. Haven’t had a good deluge in Chicago for months. It must be diesels because as you pointed out in Spain, as in the US, Saab is still somewhat unknown. And folks who tire of VW/Audi,BMW,MB,Volvo need to get to the showrooms. And bribing with Saabarus and Trollblazers…well they need plan D. TiDs already have Ts and DI. plus they burn the most BTU fuel and have the ability to burn the most BTU alternative fuel, BioD with no modification, which is good. Petrol, benzin, gasoline, ethanol…hydrogen, whatever will never be able to get the same bang (torque)for the buck. Google “scrt diesel” and i think you will see that emission control technologies costs will be reasonable as all new diesel equipment will require it. Even if it gets to the urea additive you mention, a litre will go mucho(Ks)kms. Plus no spark plugs or ignition cassettes or crank sensors to replace is a total joy. Now go down to the dealer and drive one if possible and you’ll see what the commotion is all about. Next, lets see that “engine of the year” (1.3L turboD)with the neatest thing about hybrids-autostop.

  5. I test some of them, I must recognize that are quite good, easy to drive, good performance, but they have a lack of refinement and sport feeling comapred to the 2.0t ……In petrol engines you have the DI and those problems, but in diesels is more common to broke the turbo that has variable geometry als is very common the air mass sensor, head gasket, oil consumption and many other parts.Here in Spain many brands sell the Diesels as sport cars, thanks to it big torque, but those engines hasn’t the same capabilities of the petrol engines to go to high revs and mantain it, and its incredibly common problems with the turbo, head gasket, oil consumption, injectors…

    if you make many miles and with a normal drive its a good purchase, but the problems comes with the people thinks its a performance car.

    About rain, this is year is incredibly dry in Spain, in Catalonia the government in some zones applied a plan to reduce the consumption of water, the lakes are about 30% of the capacity in some places. The problem here it rain where isn’t needed.

  6. We’ve had about 5 inches of rain in the last 36 hours here in Hobart. And the worst part? I left the window half-open on my 99Turbo! Eeeek!

    I haven’t driven the new diesels, but I could see what Eduard’s saying – where people perhaps buy it for sporting capabilites and get let down. The impression I got was that it was more of a distance engine with great lugging power and heaps of twist. The benefit and marketability with diesels has improved as the responsiveness has improved I guess.

  7. The US is somewhat unique because of its size, it’s crappy public transportation system, and the fact that Americans love to drive. A lot.

    Anything we can do to improve MPG at this point would be great. Diesels have come a long way, and they’re an important route to better MPG. So are hybrids, but your mechanic can fix your diesel in 10 years – will he be able to do anything about a dead hybrid battery?

    Also, biodiesel is a way for the US to kill off a portion of its foreign oil dependency, which has become something of a political hot-button issue. Sure, we could drill in the ANWR, but wouldn’t it be better if we just ran veggie oil instead?

  8. PT. what are you wondering about? Why ethanol hasn’t had a bigger uptake, as per the GMDCMBMW post? Sorry, didn’t get around to providing any thoughts.

    My initial thought would be that it’s a relatively new product and won’t be tested out on markets as important or as set in their ways as the US market until it’s proven and accepted. Ethanol engines require separate parts for valves etc as well as fuel components (lines, tank etc) that can cope with the fuel. My guess is that they’re willing to try that out in a market with more govt help (Sweden) for setting up the infrastructure. You can count out oil co conspiracies if you like, but I can’t imagine the Fed govt in the US doing a whole lot to help out the ethanol industry in it’s infancy. Can you?

    It’s a little like the chicken and the egg. People aren’t going to rush out and buy cars if there’s no outlets to get the fuel. And the fuel suppliers aren’t going to spend billions on infrastructure without knowing there’ll be a market there at the end of the day.

  9. Swade/BP/PT-
    don’t laugh, mcd’s in austria already do’in it,
    recycling fryer oil, converting to bioD, running
    their trucks. And they’ll sue if you think about
    calling it McDiesel. There should be no debate ethanol vs. bioD, we need a lot more of both and it probably will require fed/state gov “guidance” as Big Oil, Big AG et al(you know who you are) would rather make “green” TV commercials than get product to market. How bout a worldwide effort. yeah right

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