I just got this in via email from Automotive News.  It’s not Saab-specific, but could have some ramifications for the brand going into the future.

Personally, I’d love to know what happened to the Variable Compression Engine…….but I digress.

FRANKFURT (Reuters) — German luxury carmaker BMW has joined DaimlerChrysler and General Motors in an alliance to develop new hybrid vehicle technology, DaimlerChrysler and GM said on Wednesday.

A joint statement said the three carmakers had signed a memorandum of understanding to become equal partners in the project. DaimlerChrysler and GM last month finalized a deal to co-develop new hybrid vehicle technology as they try to catch up with Japanese rivals on the fuel-saving systems that reduce harmful emissions.

The automakers have said they will develop a "two-mode" hybrid technology that boosts both acceleration and fuel economy by 25 percent and can be used on a wide variety of vehicles.

Joining the project marks a shift of emphasis for BMW. The world’s largest maker of premium cars has until now focused on developing next-generation powertrains that either burn hydrogen in converted internal-combustion engines or that use hydrogen in fuel cells.

The alliance teamed GM, the world’s biggest automaker, and German-American DaimlerChrysler, the global number five, against such rivals as Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd., which have a head start in the hybrid market.

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  1. Remember that Saab said that since last year it was testing a Hybrid version of the 9-3ss, that is developed by Saab and GM, now they are making the winter tests. Since 2001 Saab developed an Hybrid for the 9-5, and now thanks the Gm technology it makes and evolution and is taking care of the development for GM of the Hybrid technologies for the mid-high segment.

    That’s are bad news for Toyota.Many people said that Toyota has a leadership in Hybrid technology for small cars, and its true, and it was a demonstration of force when offer help to GM to develop Hybrid cars. That’s not true, Toyota know very well the expertise of GM in hybid engines and how is developming during years Hydrogen engines with DC, BMW and other brands and how made the same with the Hybrid technology, that means it will be an standarization of the technology if you develop it with others and gives to toyota less power to give to others its technology and receive cash for royaltes/licences of technology. THat’s why Toyota offered help to GM to develop hybrid cars, to have more power with its licences.

  2. I, too, want to know what happened to the Variable Compression Engine. Talk about a cool piece of technology.

    I am more sympathetic to GM than most Saabophiles, but pulling the plug on development of the Variable Compression Engine was a big mistake, if that’s what happened. That’s the sort of technological advance which makes Saabs cool and different.

  3. Where does the Saab Biopower sit in all this? Are ethanol-powered engines not part of the equation? My knowledge of this area is not great but i am aware that the Biopower saabs go pretty well & cost less to run.
    Not sure of the pollution + cost of production of ethanol…. can anyone enlighten me?

  4. Pete,

    As I understand it: the main argument that is proposed against Ethanol (aside from the lack of infrastructure) is the economic cost. i.e. the fuel can, in certain variations, consume more energy in it’s production than what it generates. I’ve a feeling that this may be true in a heavily mechanised farming environment where corn is being used, for example, to provide the basis for the fuel. In agrarian countries such as Brazil they make it from sugarcane, which virtually grows itself.

    The final product has a higher octane rating and therefore enables a high power output in engines such as the Biopower 9-5. The other good side is that over it’s life cycle, the fuel is pollutant-neutral. Any gases from the burning of the fuel are balanced by the good stuff given off while the plants are growing.

    Wikipedia is a good resource for all the basics.

  5. Well, about the VC Engine I have felt that that could bee a nice engine. I have put alot of thougt about this in the past years. Nowdays I do not belive that it ever will hit production…

    But this monday I was heading for the airport in a taxi ( Volvo v70!!!! Yaik!) and the driver was talking about his racing, and his fathers company in the towing business. The driver was helping his father out sometimes. I was almost asleep and not very interested in the words passing through the lips of the driver. But suddenly I heard the words of ‘a saab that had engine problem and I was not allowed to open the hood….’

    He was to deliver the car to the nerest gas station at a main road of some kind… After this I was wideawake! He deliverd the car and a truck was waiting with some technichans. After some discussions he was allowed too stay (he was racing and very motor interested) and just look under the hood. There was a cind of accordion spliting the engine in a upper and lower section…Then the show was over.
    This happend an afternoon in the fall of 2004 so it is just a year ago.

    When entering the plane I had a million question. My hope now is that this driver will pick me upp when I’m treveling to the airport next time. (Going there 3 times a week this fall).

    This can be true…but this driver can also be full of shit…I need to ask him about the this car

  6. Following the ethanol point a little more…I am aware that its mainstream fuel in Brasil where its sugarcane based…and so the arguments about sustainability are met. WHat i cannot understand is how an industry that has so much invested in the the internal combustion engine is pusuring hybrids while largely ignoring ethanol. Assuming that we ignore oil company conspiricies ( they could add it to their infrastructur, delivery networks etc. ) its doesn’t add up. Particularly when their is a performance benefit as well as a pollution upside.



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