Saab’s Plug-In Hybrid

Bob Lutz is answering questions at Fastlane, so here’s a question – Why did you kill Saab’s Plug-In Hybrid at the Stockholm Motor Show?

I really don’t understand why more of the big news services haven’t picked up on this, but they haven’t. It’s not as if they aren’t into EHV’s at all – Autoblog has a feature on one right now.

Saab unveiled a sensational hybrid 9-3 convertible concept car at the Stockholm Motor Show just over a month ago. What they didn’t tell anyone, what they in fact covered up, was that this car wasn’t just a new hybrid technology, it was also a plug-in hybrid, extending the capabilities of the vehicle even further. Since the show there’s been no news reports, no magazine tests. Zero, nada, nix, nothing. It’s almost as if the thing up and vanished into thin air.

In a nutshell, Saab’s Biopower hybrid was more than it seemed when it was unveilied at Stockholm. Behind the glued-in rear badge was a plug-in capability that lifted the technology and the mileage capability of the car to new levels. It was reported in Aftonbladet (in Swedish) that GM told Saab at the last minute before the Stockholm show, to re-write the press releases and glue shut the plug-in cover. The plug-in capability of this car was not to be revealed.

You can read the initial report about the plug-in capability and GM’s cover-up by clicking here. You can see the ‘smoking gun’ original press release by clicking here.

So the big questions for Bob, seeing he’s in a co-operative type of question-answering mood today, are these –

1. Why did you order the cover up of the plug-in capability?

2. Will Saab get to debut this technology, or will it be swiped by a bigger brand?

3. If we’ll get to see it in a Saab, then when?

Given my own theory that Saab will go all-Biopower in the next 18 months or so, I have a feeling that we may get to see this in a Saab in the next 2 to 3 years.

If it’s given to another GM brand to debut, then that’s reprehensible in my opinion. Reports published when the hybrid debuted indicated that Saab have been the lead GM party in it’s development. Saab have a reputation for being innovative and environmentally responsible and Saab have the growth potential to make good use of the publicity.

Bob, my email link is in the left sidebar. You’re more than welcome to let me know, on the quiet, the answers to these questions. And if Saab are going to get to debut this and I’m just being a monumental pain in the ass then you’re more than welcome to fly me to New York in August and kick my ass in front of all the Saab faithful (hey, anything for an airfare!).

We’re waiting, Bob.

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  1. I think I’m missing something here… can someone clear this up for me?

    I thought automakers were trying to stay away from a plug-in car.

    What’s the advantages of this?

    I thought there was a stigma concerning plugs and cars.

  2. “I thought automakers were trying to stay away from a plug-in car.”

    Some are if their main markets have electricity shortage and if electricity is not produced in a clean way.

    I remember reading long ago that Saab is just generally responsible for GM’s FWD hybrids and very recently I read that new engineering concept of GM is that they dont plan advance who is going to use what. They just make technology ready to be used what ever brand it might be.

    This is global engineering.

    We hardly can never know what was engineered by who and where. Even outlook design has gone global. Somebody in Europe could design something to the USA truck and other way around.

    Like latest turbo V4 engine of GM, press release just said that main development was done in the USA with help of Europe.

    Welcome to the global engineering. Credits only to GM.

  3. It’s true that Toyota is trying to move away from plugin hybrids. There was a stigma at the beginning that hybrid cars had to be plugged in at night. Most people don’t like that idea.

    However, there are folks out there who have hacked Priuses (Prii?) to be plugin hybrids. The advantage of having a plugin hybrid is that for most trips (under 40mph, less than 40 miles) you don’t have to use any gasoline at all. Just plug it in when you get home. Most trips for most people are this distance. However, if you need to go further, you still have that ability because you can use the gasoline engine.

    Most people I know wouldn’t have to fill up for months if they had a plug-in hybrid.

    However, for city dwellers, plugins do present problems. Since I don’t have a garage and have to park in the street, there’s no way for me to have a plugin because the cord would have to be prohibitively long.

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