Next-Gen Saab Hybrid

I received a comment from ctm today stating that Saab might show a “two-step hybrid” at the Paris Motor Show in September.

Before I could email a reply asking if there was a link to the story, this appeared in my inbox. Thanks to Gert for the translation. The original story, in Swedish, can be found here.

Hybrid cars great opportunity for Saab

Hybrid cars have a great future. Daimler Chrysler, BMW and General Motors (GM) have formed an alliance to develop a new hybrid technology for cars. With high probability it will be small Saab which will reveal the new hybrid engine at the end of September.

Totally over 1 billion dollars will be invested in the collaboration. The main goal is to develop next generations’ hybrid system. This is highly expensive. In this way the development costs can be shared between GM, Daimler Chrysler and BMW which otherwise have fallen behind Toyota and Honda regarding hybrid vehicles with combined gas and electric power.

Toyota’s Prius has been extremely popular since 1997. According TT (Swedish News Agency) about 500 engineers have worked on the project the last 18 months.

Already at the Paris Show September 28 Saab will reveal the first results, confirms Örjan Åslund, head of communication at Saab Sweden.

– At that time we will display a more developed version of the car we showed in London in July.

In London Saab showed a 9-3 cabriolet powered by 100 % ethanol and electricity. At the Paris show in about two months it will likely be the so called two way hybrid engine instead – that is the core of the billion dollar collaboration. The new technology means that engine will produce more power with less fuel compared to the engines of the competitors. In for example the Toyota Prius a lot of power is lost when the engine switches between electric and gas/ethanol power. For example this makes it hard to use with a trailer.

In the new two way hybrid system gas/ethanol and electric power can be combined in a more energy saving manner. When you drive on the road the switching of power source is completely seamless.

A big number of mechanical gears makes most of the energy from the gas/ethanol engine go down to the wheels. A lot of power can be saved by not letting the power go the way through the electric engine as is the case with many other hybrid cars. The engine will go into production next year. As things looks like now is will be used first in the SUVs Chevrolet Tahoa and GMC Yukon on the American market.

– We plan to have a Saab hybrid into production before 2010, Örjan Åslund says.

BMW still doesn’t have a schedule for the introduction of the new technology in their cars but thinks it will happen within three to five years.

Daimler Chrysler plans to introduce the new hybrid system in a 2008 year model of the SUV Dodge Durango.

This is a very pleasing development. Back in March when Saab unveiled the Biopower Hybrid Convertible, there was a fair bit of noise made on these pages about the covering up of the plug-in capability of the car, about the fact that is would most likely be another GM brand that debuted the technology.

This development doesn’t address that issue, but it’s promising to see Saab being used to debut new technologies – a role they’ve been familiar with for years.

There’s a little more about this transmission system here at Autoweek

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  1. I’m little uncertain about my translation to “two-step” hybrid. I have seen the term “two-mode” hybrid today on the net. Anyone know if they mean the same thing?

  2. i think the two-step comes from using two electric motors, one within the ethanol engine’s FWD gearbox (doubles as a starter motor and i think a generator) and one driving the rear wheels for electric only and traction control assist ‘AWD’ mode.

    i’d buy one today if they made them and they wouldn’t cost $150,000 a piece. sadly, that massive LiIon battery used in the concept would be worth a small (and by small, i mean large) fortune. hopefully once mass production of hybrid and electric vehicles kicks in, prices will go down.

    i also think it is a rather cute (if somewhat cheating) way of Saab to AWD quickly! since seeing the rear axle setup of the car, i’ve been wondering how hard it would be convert a C900 to a hybrid 😉

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