The Smoking Gun

A few days ago, it was alleged by Robert Collin in Aftonbladet (Swedish newspaper) that GM had told Saab to cover up the fact that the 9-3 Convertible Hybrid Concept was, in fact, a plug-in hybrid. It was said that GM told Saab to glue shut the plug cover, located behind the badge at the rear of the car. It was also said that GM got Saab to re-write the press material so that the plug-in capability wasn’t mentioned.

It seems Autoweb in Australia received the old press material and ran with it:

To optimise the availability of ‘Zero Mode’, a plug-in-feature is available which allows the battery bank to be connected to a mains electricity supply for additional charging in the garage. This would, for example, allow a driver commuting in heavy traffic to immediately resume in ‘Zero Mode’ the next morning after arriving home the previous evening having used up all its range. A neat socket is located behind the Saab badge on the 9-3 BioPower Hybrid Concept’s trunk lid.

That paragraph is missing from the press release that I received and reproduced here.

So it seems that Saab, after taking a lead role in the development of this technology, was pushed into hushing this up. The question now is what car will the plug-in feature on? And what is GM’s real attitude towards Saab being seen as an innovative, environmentally responsible and yet sporting brand within the GM portfolio?

The full, original story about this issue is here.

My thanks to Kayfer for finding this link and essentially proving the original Aftonbladet claims.

For the record, here’s a screendump of the original story on Autoweb. The offending paragraph is circled. Click to enlarge.

Plug-in Hybrid screendump.jpg

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  1. Way to go GM…now your potential “NEWS” is turned into anti-news since everone who cares already knows the truth… This story is turning into a farce despite that the fact that it’s really a tradgedy…

  2. Its quite easy to explain really, GM was simply going to add the plug-in feature as an option. Pay an additional $1750 plus taxes for some glue remover and an extension cord – and you are all set to plug and play!

  3. Search this paragraph at google and you will see that there are more websites with that info.

    for example search the first five,six words.


  4. Just to be a devils advocate for a moment….perhaps there is a plan in place to make a bigger splash in a bigger pond ( NY) and launch the plug-in feature with the Saab Hybrid directly into the US media? They maybe want to keep some powder dry so there is a “scoop” from the NY show which will make the news in the US? Its fairly shallow but understandable marketing if this is the case…..and I won’t be surprised if it is.

    Has there been news of a hybrid with any other car in GMs range?

  5. Just getting so anoyed with all negative comments on GM. First, there has been 2!!!! big time new in the last month – I do not think that is bad considering that that is as many new we have seen since….?

    Secondly, what is the problem with letting other (bigger) GM brands get some of the news too? In order for SAAB to stay on track, the GM needs to make money, its not only SAAB who has.

    Finally, if you have the option of presenting one new car (hybrid, ethanol and plugin) or two cars (hybrid ethanol) and hybrid/ethanol plugin at two separate shows – what would you choose from?

    I think that GM are doing the right thing!

  6. CJ, You have some reaason about GM needs to be protagonist, but, since 15 years Saab was undervalued, the last 6-7 years GM cancelled every program and all good news and new technologies that could make Saab leader in many themes now are nearly gone. Take a look at the 9x and 9-3x, projects, take a look at the SVC and SCC projects, the 9-5, a more competitive 9-7x, an 9-3 ss AWD that was ready for production in 2003, as the Sporthatch that was delayed 2 years.

    Now GM says its very “commitent” with Saab, and makes some decisions like the last 10 years… That isn’t the best way to give Saab the real capabilities of demonstrate its power, If Saab is the Center of expertise in enviromental, safety, turbos and many other issues, why don’t give them the change to demonstrate it??

    Saab needs real things, not only Concepts and many other technologies that GM then will cancel and don’t give any proesperity to be real. Saab need facts, and when it demonstrate it and demonstrate that is the best in some issues, what they make?? to give the protagonism to another.

    Do you thing that the 2.0 turbo 260bhp and direct injection is made exclusivly by Pontiac, Saturn?? I hope that the big job made with the SCC(Saab combustion Control) its on that engine, that comes from the Saab engine showed in the 9-3 Sporthatch concept some time ago. Anybody gived any reference about the origin of the 2.0T SIDI engine from Saab??…… And Saab give many references in its press releases about the origin of some technologies that are thanks to the collaboration with GM. For example the Hybrid technology. The ethanol engines, thanks to GM Brazil, the TID engines, thanks to GM-Fiat Powertrain.

    If GM is commitent with Saab, then demonstrate with real facts, not only with concepts. if Saab is making the “dirty” job and then you don’t give them the chance to apply its own technologies, but the other brands can, then where is the real commitent with the brand??

    I understand that GM would like to make the premier if this tech in a big Show, but then planify to make the debut of Hybrid/ethanol Saab in a big show, and that would give a better image of the commitent with Saab, and the most important that bidirectional flow of know-how and collaborative way of doing things.


  7. Eduard, I agree with you that the last 10 years has largely been wasted, but if we forget about that, and look over 05/06, we have a facelift of 95, which is an old car that everyone, incl GM says needs to be replaced. However it is still a very good car, and the ethanol has made a great thing on the image.

    we have the 92 that everyone, even GM admits to being a misstake,

    THe 97 is selling increasingly well, getting good reviews (in the us) and considering the prices charged for it, saab should be making money on it.

    we have the sc introduced and selling well. I know it was delayed, but considering the amounts lost by saab during the 90ties, I do not blame GM. During this time saab has focused at lowering the cost (by 30% i think) making trollhattan one of the best plants. Am not sure that would have happened without the pressure… I think that this is the best incentive for GM to keep saab, having a productive plant that can produce several modells at the same line. Just hope that hte Clack sells ok too.

    finally we have the 2 news of the week. Guess we can only see what the future has to bring, but I think it looks rather promissing.

  8. I also think that the future its going to be better for Saab, but both Saab and GM made big mistakes in the strategy of making Saab a premium brand.

    3 projects for a new 9-5 were cancelled during the process of making a new 9-5, and finally after the cancellation of the “premium” platform developed in Sweden and now used only by Alfa, we have only a restyling. Its like the old 9-3.

    With the 9-5, the project 640 begun in 1990 and was delayed about 3 years, and finally after that was done.

    saab made the most important investment in its history in Trollhattan during the 90’s, in part thanks to GM, but after that it only received criticisms because it was underused…..its easy to say that if you pass from 150000units of capacity to 250000units but continue with the same production.

    Few months ago GM said it could produce a variety of models and to be a niche factory and don’t need to produce over 200000 units to be, few weeks ago it said it could produce the next Astra(a tactic to put fear to Bochum factory).

    The last 15 years of Saab were plenty of delays, and strategy fights between Saab and GM, and that made a lot of hurt to the brand and its capability to increase the range of models.

    The first 9-7x based on the Caddillac SRX platform was cancelled, for fear of sales canibalism and costs.

    The 9-7x, its a great car, but not enough to be competitive, its like the 9-5, its an incredible good car, but nowadays its less competitive than before. The 9-7x it has many good points that shows the capabilities of Saab to make great cars, and example is that the suspensions tune made by Saab is used on the new Trailblazer SS.


  9. Well, here it is late 2007 and GM has promo’ed the Chevy Volt concept car, and all seems very quiet about Saab. If Saab has a plug-in hybrid ready to go, may we please have it???

  10. CJ said “we have the 92 that everyone, even GM admits to being a misstake,”

    The 92 was the UrSaab. Are you saying that was a mistake?

    Oh, wait, you meant the 9-2x. Hey, I didn’t think it was a mistake. I loved it. So, myth: debunked!

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