IMPORTANT: check the bottom of the story to the follow-up to this piece.
Some things are more important than a house-moving hiatus…..
Could this badge be hiding a multitude of sins?
Word from Robert Collin at Aftonbladet this morning that GM may have thwarted Saab’s Hybrid being announced as an even bigger breakthrough than it seemed to be. As it is, the Saab 9-3 Hybrid won rave reviews for being the first hybrid vehicle to potentially return zero fossil fuel emissions.
Aftonbladet are reporting today that what Saab didn’t say about the Hybrid was that it is a plug-in hybrid.
And why didn’t they say it?
Well, if Robert Collin is correct, they were gagged. A translation of the Aftonbladet article, from Tom at iSaab, a Swedish Saab forum:
A couple of days previous to the premiere at the Stockholm Autoshow the orders came from Detroit: Not a word that the car can be charged from the socket! The Saab emblem on the boot, that hides the 220-volt intake, was glued shut. The pressmaterial was withdrawn and had to be rewritten. In Trollhattan they don´t know why, but it might be that GM will show a similar solution on one of its American brands that will be shown at the autoshow in New York later this April.
So why the fuss? Go to Calcars and check out why they’re touting Plug-ins. In short, there’s the mileage benefits, cleaner energy source benefits, lifetime service cost benefits and power storage benefits.
Plug-ins are the current darling of the environmental set and if you’re that way inclined, then being the first car company to produce a good, practical and realistic working prototype would be a major coup. The significance of the Saab Hybrid concept lay in the fact that they did it with an existing model, and to prove that it wasn’t going to be a huge bulky proposition, they did with a convertible!
This sort of clever design and development is a perfect fit for the environmentally responsible Saab brand.
Apparently GM killed it in Stockholm because they want to debut it, possibly on one of their home brands, at the New York Auto Show. If so, then GM’s true commitment to Saab and the realisation of its true growth potential must be questioned, in my opinion.
Saab is the one brand amongst GM’s portfolio with huge growth potential, and a vehicle like this, especially in a truly revolutionary configuration like the plug-in Hybrid, would have been a huge boost to Saab’s profile and in perfect keeping with its previous history of drivetrain leadership. Anyone but me notice how a lot of recent articles on future powertains are mentioning turbocharging?
If this story is accurate, then GM should come out and give credit where credit’s due. If they debut a plug-in hybrid on anything other than a Saab later this week in New York, then it’s shame, GM, Shame.
My thanks to Tom from iSaab.net for the tip-off, links and translation.
UPDATE: There’s a follow-up piece to this story and the title says it all: The Smoking Gun. The original press release was found, with the reference to the plug-in capability.